Saturday, July 31, 2010

'Alien' in Blu-Ray

Looks fantastic. Can't wait.

'Enter the Void'

Poster for 'Enter the Void'. Synopsis from IMDb:

After living in Japan for some time and finding employment as a drug dealer, a brother sends for his sister to move Japan and live with him. With a story out of sequence, this film shows the brother and sister in their intimate moments. The experience is jarring at times and blissful at others. The setting is the Japanese redlight district of the very near future. The sister gets involved with sex and drugs and the brother lives dangerously. With their parents gone from a horrible car crash (seen more than once), all these two really have is each other in an exploitive world. The brother and sister associate with many deceptive people and the reveal of the deceiver's true nature and actual motives is constantly surprising. It is the view from the otherworldly that makes this a thrilling story. From their childhood to recent events, this film builds with the significant facts. Within the tenets of a foreshadowed guide to the experiences after death, these young adult sibilings keep their pact not to leave the other.

Different. Here are some stills:

And one more poster.

Looks like one to catch. Opens September 17.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Frighteningly Dumb

Kenneth Turan takes a cursory look at 'Dinner for Schmucks':

The problem is that Carell's Barry is terribly misconceived. Yes, Barry is a man with no self-awareness and no sense of humor. But instead of being comedic, he comes off as a crazed and dangerous individual.

I've seen this in many reviews. Critics are saying Carell's character isn't so much nutty as a nut -- an emotionally (and/or mentally) challenged individual who creeps you out. Turan is saying sort of the same thing except he seems to think Barry is scarier than most.

From the glimpses I've had, I'd agree. The energy of 'Dinner for Schmucks' is just too edgy to be appealing. Two hours of Carell being dumb to the point of eeriness is too much.

NPR audio: 2:30

Hollywood and Non-Automobility

Tom Vanderbilt rundowns being carless in LA and in the movies.

Hollywood's representation of cyclists, for example, as blogger Bike Snob puts it, has "pretty much been nerds on 10 speeds." The list of prominent bicyclists in film history includes misfit teens (Napoleon Dynamite), eccentric Einstein-like scientists (the license-less Jeff Goldblum character in Independence Day, in which the bike is, admittedly, shown as a pretty decent way to escape Manhattan), vaguely countercultural types (Mark Wahlberg's character in I Heart Huckabees, or Carl Bernstein in All the President's Men) perpetual man-children (Pee-Wee's Big Adventure), and people who otherwise refuse to grow up or are out of touch with real life and the working world.

'Charlie St. Cloud'

Mark Jenkins starts his review of 'Charlie St. Cloud' thus:

A fresh-faced zombie movie with an uplifting moral, Charlie St. Cloud purports to grapple with matters of life and death. But this ode to "moving on" from grief packs so little genuine emotion that it will touch only the most susceptible of viewers.

As the title character, Disney pinup Zac Efron doesn't have enough substance to be a cloud; he's more like a barely perceptible Pacific Northwest drizzle, although he'll presumably become more noticeable to the film's target audience each time he takes off his shirt.

I saw a trailer for 'Charlie St. Cloud' which included an exchange between two characters outdoors. Every shot of Character A was lit by the sun, while in every shot of Character B (a few feet away) the sun was obscured by clouds. The effect, cutting quickly back and forth during a conversation, was jarring -- embarrassing to watch. I completely wrote the movie off based on just that scene.

The script (by all accounts) is weak, the direction was of the 'furniture-mover' variety, and editing barely qualifies as utilitarian. And, why feature a technically flawed scene in the trailer?

I don't know why they even bothered if nobody cared about the material.

The Art of Hammer

A must-have for horror fans. The Art of Hammer: Posters from the Archive of Hammer Films.

Poster for 'Piranha 3D'

Poster for 'Piranha 3D'. Just plain good.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

'Tangled' Promo Graphic

Here's a promo graphic for 'Tangled'.

Click and Watch Online

CNET on the success of Netflix:

In the quarter that ended June 30, 2009, Netflix spent $9 million on acquiring films and television shows for its streaming service. Last week, Netflix reported that for the same period this year, it spent $66 million--more than seven times as much.

...For the first six months of 2010, Netflix has paid the studios $116 million for streaming content, compared with $31 million for the same period last year. Some analysts expect those payments to keep going up as the company continues to fill out its film library.

Netflix's ability and willingness to shell out big bucks for higher and higher grades of movies and TV shows was clearly illustrated earlier this month when the company announced it had struck a $100 million deal with film financier Relativity Media to acquire about a dozen movies per year starting in 2011. As part of the agreement, Netflix will offer the upcoming film, "The Fighter," starring Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, and Christian Bale.

As movie theater attendance and DVD sales continues to decline, those seem like good figures.

There are a lot of skeptics when it comes to online movie and TV streaming services. Mark Cuban is probably the most prominent of traditionalists. (CNET has some background). The new Netflix numbers seem to answer his contention that 'The Future of TV is TV', a remark I've always thought of as pretty short-sighted.

CNET's article continues:

So, how did Netflix do it?

First, delivering digital versions of films over the Web is far cheaper than shipping physical discs. As Netflix users have opted to watch more streaming movies and receive fewer DVDs delivered by mail, the company has been able to trim postage and DVD-acquisition costs. For example, Netflix spent $24 million in the June quarter this year on DVDs, compared with $43 million during the same period last year, according to the company's June earnings report.

To me, it seems clear that the future of viewing both movies and TV is online. Theaters and TV networks will have to adjust to the digital revolution. People simply won't turn on the television at a prescribed time to catch a show, they'll watch it online when they want to. The same applies to movies -- fewer and fewer will go to the theater to see a movie. They'll just catch it online when it's convenient.

This comment catches my eye:

Clever horse trading and old-fashioned cash payments are important, because Netflix likely needs the studios more than they need Netflix.

I can't see that being the case much longer. It may not be Netflix the studios find themselves having to deal with in the future but, once theater attendance bottoms out and DVD sales are a thing of the past, it will be one or another of the digital delivery services. And, studios won't just need these services, they'll rely on them to show their movies. There won't be another game in town.

Netflix is expected to have over 20 million subscribers by next year. There are two ways of looking at that. If all 20 million went to any given movie and paid $10 a ticket that would be $200 million -- a nice take at the box office by anyone's standards. On the flip side, if all of them stayed at home and watched a competitor's movie via an online streaming service it would represent a huge box office loss for the other guy.

Monthly subscription rates for Netflix are lower than the price of seeing at least one new movie at the theater every weekend, so, admittedly, the math isn't that simple. But, by the same token, the numbers can't be ignored (much longer). Sooner or later a substantial percentage of those 20 million subscribers (and the subscribers at all the other online movie and television streaming services) will decide to stay home and watch content online.

Of course, this may not ever come to pass. I remember them saying HBO would fail -- why pay for it when it's free on TV. Nobody thought CDs would catch on because the sound quality was bright and brittle compared to the silky sound found on venerable vinyl. Nobody thought DVD sales would ever slow...

Change is a hard thing to adjust to, but the notion that theaters will continue to be the primary venue for watching movies is romantic, even quaint. In a few years the personal computer will be the new exhibitor, a 'theater' chain with convenient locations in almost every home, with no lines, no need to fight traffic or find parking, and no over-priced popcorn which shows movies any time day or night, whenever you want them.

I don't see how Hollywood studios or TV networks can bet against online streaming of content.

The Treatment

Documentary filmmaker Lucy Walker (Devil's Playground, Blindsight) has made films in improbable worlds: Amish teenagers, blind mountaineers, and, with Countdown to Zero, the nuclear arms issue. Walker and former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson talk "phishing."

Walker talks about the broad spectrum of people who appear in the film -- from a convicted uranium smuggler to eleven heads of state, the frustrations of dealing with classified situations and subjects, and using her skills as a narrative filmmaker to construct a compelling documentary. Plame Wilson discusses her involvement in the documentary, the aftermath of the Cold War, the startling number of nuclear weapons in the world today and, the Washington Post article that revealed her as a CIA operations officer.

NOTE: Countdown to Zero will screen at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood on July 31 at 5:20 and 7:30, as part of KCRW Presents Zócalo Public Square. All programs are free and open to the public, but seating is limited and reservations are strongly recommended. To RSVP, click on the screening time of your choice.

The Dreaded Dinner

Comedies should not run longer than 90 minutes. Funny gets tiresome after a while and yawn-inducing after that. Your position in the seat requires constant adjustment, watches require constant checking -- it gets bad.

I just discovered 'Dinner for Schmucks' runs 1:54. The picture already seems to have a grating energy that would be tough to endure for an hour-and-a-half.

The dinner sequence is  probably the longest in the movie and features a group of characters whose eccentricities come across as forced and irritating rather than charming or endearing.

Bad dinner parties are particularly embarrassing. The thought of watching 'Dinner for Schmucks' holds about as much appeal as would actually sitting through a real dinner with a collection of zany eager idiots.

It just doesn't strike me as funny. Certainly not for two hours. This movie has seemed like a tough sell from the start. It's long runtime doesn't help.

May I be excused?

'Piranha 3D'

Here's a look at the star of 'Piranha 3D', coming August 20.

What's Funny About That?

Scott Bowles bemoans the state of the comedy:

The live-action comedy, which just a few years ago was one of Hollywood's most bankable genres, has little to laugh about this year. Among the top 10 films so far in 2010, the only comedies are animated movies: Toy Story 3(No. 1 at $380.6 million), Shrek Forever AfterDespicable Me ($164.4 million). You have to go to No. 11, Grown Ups (143.2 million), to find a hit comedy with human beings.

...lately, comedies simply haven't been that good, says Jeff Bock, analyst for industry tracking firm Exhibitor Relations.

Paul Dergarabedian chimes in with:

Lately, it seems, all we're getting is serious fare and kids stuff.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

'Inception' Explained at a Glance

This graphic clearly explains the goings-on of 'Inception'. You do understand... Right? It's perfectly clear to me.

From Kim Morgan, by Deviantart user Dehahs.

'Yogi Bear' Teaser

Teaser for 'Yogi Bear'.

Trailer for 'Soul Kitchen'

Trailer for 'Soul Kitchen'.

A Message From Jack Sparrow

'Pirates Of The Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides'.

'Titanic II'

Poster for 'Titanic 2'. '100 years later, lightning strikes twice'. Cinematical is running a trailer.

Slipping 3D Ticket Sales

The latest on slipping 3D ticket sales:

"Not every screen in this country can show films in 3D and beyond that, it's about market saturation," notes box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "Do people get burned out on it? Is it too much 3D?"

In fact, 3D films have seen their opening week box office numbers decline as a percentage of their overall ticket sales.

"Avatar" set the standard with 71 percent of its tickets for the 3D version, but more recently "Toy Story 3" saw 60 percent, "The Last Airbender" 56 percent and another box office hit "Despicable Me" sold just 45 percent of its tickets in 3D.

This from The Telegraph a few days ago:

...with up to $7.50 (£5) extra being charged per ticket - there are signs that 3D may not, after all, be the panacea for falling ticket sales.

The proportion of cinema-goers who opt to see new films in their 3D versions has fallen steadily over recent months, with more opting instead to watch them in the traditional - and cheaper - format.

Way back in March Dergarabedian said:

"People perceive a movie ticket as a bargain, the minute they do not perceive that as a bargain, that could be trouble for the industry."

The story is still being written, but looks like Dergarabedian may have been right -- or -- the decline in ticket sales could be in response to the increased price and recent films with technically poor 3D rendition, like 'Clash of the Titans'. People paid (way) more, got headaches from watching a bad picture, and felt burned. So, they opted for traditional 2D next time out.

The next generation of 3D flicks, like 'Thor' and 'Captain America', could feature the best 3D imagery yet and might get audiences fired up again, willing to pay extra for the premium experience.

I'm encouraged by this entry at Hero Complex:

Thor" will be the first Marvel film in 3-D. The second will be "Captain America: The First Avenger" due July 22, 2011. The director of that film, Joe Johnston, has experience with stories of the fantastic (his credits include "Jurassic Park 3" and "The Wolfman"), but he said he was also skeptical of 3-D after seeing some recent films make missteps.

"I think it tends to be overused and can be a little bit gimmicky," said Johnston, who began shooting last week in London but will travel to San Diego for Marvel's Comic-Con panel. "A lot of people are using 3-D now because they feel have they have to ... that will come and go and the pictures that deserve to be in 3-D will continue to be. When it's done bad, it can make you carsick."

...He said he's a firm believer, though, in the conversion approach if done right and he's enthused to move forward. "It's a new challenge and it's exciting," Johnston said.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Trailer for 'Monsters'

I love this kind of flick. At 1:18 we get our first glimpse.

'I Melt With You' Trailer

I Melt With You from Pellington Films on Vimeo.

Trailer for 'I Melt With You'

Teaser Graphic for 'Drive Angry'

Here's a teaser graphic for 'Drive Angry'. Subtle.


'Sucker Punch' Trailer

Serious eye-candy. I'll start the popcorn.

'Let Me In' Red Band Trailer

The same as the trailer we got a few days ago, except spiked with a few seconds of very effective footage.

Smarter Than the Average Bear

Teaser mock up for 'Yogi Bear'. This just looks like a lot of fun.

Picnic starts December 17.

'Get Carter' Garage to be Demolished

The parking garage featured in the 1971 movie 'Get Carter', Gateshead car park outside London (above), will be demolished.

About selecting the location, director Mike Hodge says:

Having drafted the script I spent weeks combing the area for locations. That's when I saw the Trinity Centre. You couldn't miss it – a monumental example of Sixties British brutalist architecture which, along with the city's vast cast iron bridges stretching across the Tyne, seemed to capture the nature of Jack Carter himself.

As I wandered alone through the upper structure, I realised how the different levels would allow me to reveal the hunter, Jack Carter (Michael Caine), and the hunted, Cliff Brumby, simultaneously but without either being aware of the other – thereby increasing the suspense. When they eventually collide on one of the cement spiral stairwells, the method of Brumby's demise quickly became obvious.

In regard to the violence in 'Get Carter', where his character, Jack Carter, is depicted throwing a person to his death from the Gateshead car park, Michael Caine says:

I always regarded film violence as sort of pornographic when children would watch someone get smashed in the face 30 times, then see them come to work the next day with a tiny piece of plaster on their face. We wanted to get the idea across that one punch took out seven or eight teeth. Or maybe if the guy had a ring out, blinded you in one eye.

So when you see Carter, the violence is absolutely out of the blue, and very realistic. And the bit where I throw the guy off the parking garage and he lands on a car below, killing a family inside it, that’s because I thought ‘Well they always land on the ground, don’t they? What if he landed on a car with some women and children in it, and they get harmed as well?”

I have a philosophy in life and that is once you make a mistake, it will spread. This falls over, that falls over onto that, that catches fire and then the hotel burns down.

The Crimson Bolt!

Here's a promo image for 'Super', directed by James Gunn, starring Rainn Wilson as Crimson Bolt. IMDb lists the synopsis as:

After his wife falls under the influence of a drug dealer, an everyday guy transforms himself into Crimson Bolt, a superhero with the best intentions, though he lacks for heroic skills.

Very been there done that, but here's hoping.

'Sucker Punch'

'Sucker Punch' graphic. I just like this.

'Dramatizing the Lives of Musicians'

Mads Mikkelsen and Anna Mouglalis in 'Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky', a biopic with an ungainly title that I'm looking forward to seeing.

At Slate, Jan Swafford, who knows a bit about the subject, on biopics about musicians and balancing the truth with entertainment in a movie like 'Coco and Igor':

Leading man Mads Mikkelsen has studied photos of Stravinsky in that period and he nails the look. In those days Stravinsky had an unhandsome but chiseled, fiercely self-contained face. He didn't look like the Romantic idea of a composer; he looked like a Brancusi. In the movie Stravinsky plays a period Steinway, and his playing has a curt, percussive quality that is exactly right. (Mikkelsen is probably faking the playing, but it's actually hard to tell.) The movie implies Stravinsky's heavy drinking started with Chanel's rejection. Although, as a Russian artist, he was probably devoted to the sauce all along and drank as if every night were the eve of Prohibition, I'd call that acceptable dramatic license.

On Stravinsky's assessment of his ability to compose:

"It's as if I open a door and the music is there." Stravinsky was virtually in awe of his own gift. He didn't know where it came from. Neither did Mozart. Both made the default guess, which was God. I don't know whether Stravinsky said that line about the door, but he did say this: "I am the vessel through which Le sacre du printemps passed." And, as in the movie, he probably kept a cross on his desk.

Probably more than you need to know, but it's a good write-up.

'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World'

At MonkeySee, Glen Weldon on 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World':

Michael Cera’s casting was greeted in some circles with surprise. To many (okay, fine: to me), his delicate, stammery presence didn’t jibe with the heedless and willful Scott of the books.  And to be blunt, this performance doesn’t move Cera the actor outside of his comfort zone too often.

But it does make him a Scott Pilgrim you care about.  In place of the books’ cartoony saucer-eyes and Cheshire-cat grin, we get a Scott who’s slightly frail, even occasionally plaintive — which just makes his freewheeling, kinetic deftness at butt-kicking all the more satisfying.

All that said? I’m still worried.

Monday, July 26, 2010

'Never Let Me Go' Poster

Poster for 'Never Let Me Go', based on the novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro, which was a runner up for the Booker Prize in 2005 and named Best Novel of the Decade by Time.

The movie has already gotten excellent comments. David Gritten said on his blog:

It’s disappointing to see various British publications toeing the US line, insisting the new Spider-Man, 26-year-old British actor Andrew Garfield, is “little-known”.

No, he isn’t. Garfield won a Bafta for his terrific portrayal of an ex-con in Boy A. In his first Hollywood film, Lions for Lambs, he lined up alongside Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise and Robert Redford. And in the scorching television drama Red Riding, he justifiably won rave reviews as a cocky young journalist.

It’ll soon be a moot point, anyhow. I was lucky enough to see an early screening of the British-made film Never Let Me Go, in which he’s heartbreaking as a young man with a short life expectancy. He’s as brilliant as his co-stars Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley. By the time Spider-Man 4 arrives in July 2012, no one will be calling him “little-known”.

The Daily Mail said, "Never Let Me Go is the most haunting film about love and death I've ever seen."

Today, over at Gold Derby, Elena Howe asks:

Does Fox Searchlight have another contender on its hands? The studio with the winning Oscar ways — it released 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine” (four key Oscar nominations, two wins); 2007’s “Juno” (four key noms, one win);  2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire” (10 nominations, eight wins) and 2009’s “Crazy Heart” (three nominations, two wins) — now is positioning “Never Let Me Go” for award season consideration.

The plot is pretty dark -- there's a lot of potential for a very moving story here.

'Never Let Me Go' arrives this fall. Directed by Mark Romanek, the movie stars Keira Knightley, the little known Andrew Garfield, and Carey Mulligan.

'The Virginity Hit' Trailer

Trailer for 'The Virginity Hit', produced by Will Farrell and Adam McKay.

'RED' Trailer

I can't stand how good every second of this looks.

'Let Me In' Trailer

Trailer for 'Let Me In'. Doesn't look quite as organic as the original. The lines are more clearly drawn, it's more mechanical. But, it pushes all the right buttons.

Cowboys and Aliens Graphic Novel

Online September 28. In stores in December.


Joseph Gordon-Levett in 'Hesher'. I'm struck by just how dweebish and uncertain Natalie Portman looks.

Gets under the skin quick. Looks good.

'Green Lantern' Character Posters

In Brightest Day,
In Blackest Night.
No Evil Shall
Escape My Sight.

I like No Evil Shall the best. Mark Strong's character poster for 'Green Lantern'.

The History of 'Inception'

A scant two weeks have passed since 'Inception' opened. In that time, and before that time, there has been a wild conflagration of commentary. Dizzy swooning proclaiming the movie is pure genius was quickly followed by indignant back-biting mostly concerned with, not whether an opinion was right or wrong, but whether one or another person with an opinion about 'Inception' was an idiot or hit the nail on the head or was out of line for having an opinion or should be ignored (or imprisoned) for voicing their opinion.

Most of this transpired before 'Inception' played even once for the public, and has continued enthusiastically since its debut.

A.O. Scott has compiled what amounts to a brief history of the rollout of 'Inception':

...a burst of raves went up all over the Internet. The name of Stanley Kubrick was duly invoked, and the word “masterpiece” sounded like a trumpet through the blogosphere. The early score on was a perfect 100. But then a second round of notices tarnished that luster. David Edelstein of New York magazine, Stephanie Zacharek of and Armond White, the reliably oppositional critic at The New York Press, published pans that ranged from frustrated to weary to vitriolic, decrying the rush to inscribe “Inception” in the pantheon of cinematic greatness. For their efforts these and other similarly unimpressed writers were treated like advocates for national health care at a Tea Party rally, their motives, their professionalism, their morals and their sanity questioned, and not always politely. What seemed to provoke the most ire was that these critics had shown the temerity to mention what other critics had written, and to respond to the aggressive marketing and the early effusions.

The next stage involved a series of commentaries reflecting on these earlier phases, and wondering what it all said about the state of criticism in (oh, my) the age of the Internet. The rage of the movie’s defenders was a particular cause of dismay, since their intemperate howling seemed to attack the very basis of civilized discussion and to impart a personal, emotional tone to the whole debate. How dare you not like what I like? How dare you cast doubt on my reasons for liking it? Shut up and let me watch the movie — which I am sure I will love even though I haven’t seen it yet!

I was astounded at all this. Not so much the gushing about how good the movie is/was before it opened, but by the response to the second wave of less than stellar reviews. It was beyond uncivilized, (even for the internet where, often, civilized discourse is not a priority). Scott sums up the tone nicely -- it was very much 'how dare you not like what I like'.

Yes. Many of those who were drooling in anticipation of seeing 'Inception' cried foul when some critics had the temerity to point out that, (in their opinion), the movie contained flaws. 'Inception' has been determined to be super-awesome! DO NOT suggest it isn't, you idiot!'

It was as if voicing the notion that 'Inception' was something less than a masterpiece was reason enough to suffer that most dreaded of punishments: having your internet connection shut off.

I know there is a lot of juvenile behavior online, both from obscure bloggers and major players, but the 'Inception' rock fight was a thing to behold. It was transcendental. 'Juvenile' behavior was tossed out the window in favor of furious, hate-filled, embittered, almost mindless indignation. The response could well have been classified as 'reptilian'. Insults were hurled. Righteous anger trumpeted. Bloggers were spitting mad, frothing at the mouth. I wondered how many keyboards were pounded to pieces during the composition of diatribes against those who dared to suggest 'Inception' was not a singular gem among cinematic accomplishments.

Since when are opinions about movies cause for riots? Why were we warned that early positive buzz about 'Inception' might be something to be concerned about? What's happened to us?

Do we respond so passionately to the assessments of others because, due to the democratizing effect of the internet, opinions -- everybody's opinions -- are perceived to be valid due to the simple fact they are posted online (as are ours, which we know to be valid) and, therefore, are a direct threat against us if they represent a way of thinking which differs from our own?

Have we become part of a grand Pavlovian experiment? Are there researchers somewhere who monitor us and giggle at our silly and quick knee-jerk reactions and indignant eye-twitchings when we read an opinion which differs from our own?

It's just a movie. Could be a masterpiece of historic significance, could be a fun summertime popcorn thriller. Depends who you ask -- and whether you care to listen.

If 'Inception' becomes legendary, it will probably be for the passionate praise, and the fanatic insipid insults for those who failed to praise, that served as a prelude to its opening.

Now, thankfully, the debate is about the meaning of 'Inception' rather than whether the movie is great or not. But, while the cross-fire is less heated, it's also a bit more superficial. Does the movie have a twist ending? What effect does the last few seconds of 'Inception' have on what preceded? Does this change the way I should live my life? (Should I believe what you have to say on the matter)? Are you conspiring against me? Are you an idiot for having an opinion, or an idiot for not having one? Is your response a trick?

The meaning? I have to agree with Scott's observation -- such pondering shrewdly invites a second viewing, possibly a third. Certainly, should the meaning of the movie be fully appreciated, the DVD must be rented or purchased. Then, when it becomes available, at a small additional cost, the director's cut must be viewed.

The meaning of 'Inception'? Are you kidding me? It's a movie. it?

Perhaps we have become part of a Pavlovian experiment. But, in this case, it's not researchers conducting scientific work who are pulling the strings, it's Hollywood marketers, and the chiming of bells we hear is the ringing of box office cash registers across the land.

It's as if 'Inception' has hypnotized us, caused us to argue wildly and call each other names without regard to how silly we look and, during the heated exchanges, a master thief has picked our pockets of moneys spent on tickets to see the 'Inception' repeatedly so that we know exactly what we are arguing about, and, on his way out, made off with our dignity, our respect for others, and our sense of what really matters for use at a later time.

You can wake up now, and when you do you won't remember what you have just read. And, if you do remember it you won't be able to understand it, no matter how hard you try.

Perhaps, you'd care to wipe the drool off your chin. I'll put dinner on the table.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Sky Above LA

LA is taking a beating in upcoming movies. This is the first image from 'Skyline' I've seen. Is the guy on the left holding a night stick or a side arm? Not sure what he intends to do (in either case).

Looking forward to this and 'Battle: Los Angeles'. (image below)

'Cowboys & Aliens' Image

Coming out of SDCC, this is the first image of Daniel Craig from 'Cowboys & Aliens' directed by Jon Favreau.

Not what I had hoped for. I'm wondering what kind of response this got. Just seems wrong -- in a way that's hard to articulate. I guess Craig just doesn't look that 'cowboyish', and, I'm sorry, but that hat does not fit.

Also, is that really the aspect ratio? Ooph -- should be wider. I suppose Favreau wanted that old-timey westerns look from the 40s and 50s before super-wide ratios were the in thing and a lot of the genre only appeared on TV. But, for a popcorn flick this is too square a frame.

I shouldn't complain -- just assumed I'd be blown away. Still. Should be good. Waiting for more.

Which Online Movie Streaming Service

A few days ago we got word of UltaViolet, a new standard endorsed by a bunch of Hollywood studios that, somehow, will make for better movie viewing online and on mobile devices. There were more than a couple attempts at explaining the approach but I still don't really get it.

NYT looks at the confusing slew of online movie delivery platforms:

On May 10 came word of i-Trailers, a new company devoted to movie advertising on the Web and mobile devices. On May 11, Diva Mobile declared itself the entertainment industry’s "first cross-platform solution for video-on-demand" services. Arriving on May 13 was, a site promising to stream live, behind-the-scenes video from movie sets for a one-time $9.99 fee.

And the frenzy has continued. Just last Tuesday came, which said it was "revolutionizing the way in which live entertainment and social networking come together."

You get the idea.

All I really want is to get my movies not at the theater, not on DVD, but online, on-demand, streaming, and in HD. Whoever gets there first should score big.

Poster Watch

Poster for 'The Goon'. If the bits are as smart as they are gross will be a hoot.

Poster for 'Let Me In'. Far better than the previous try.

Tron Lightcycle

The Story of the Story of 'Get Low'

I'm looking forward to 'Get Low' with Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Murray. Reviews are very good and the movie has that energy -- you know it'll be fun.

This LAT piece about Dean Zanuck (Darryl's grandson) producing 'Get Low' mentions it's based on a (really) true story. The poster's tag is 'A true tall tale' but I thought that was just schtick. Turns out the events in the movie actually happened.

About the script's genesis, Zanuck says:

It came about a decade ago. My wife was showing houses to a young lit manager and I got to know him, and he told me this story he was working on with his writer client.

A Google search resulted in this interesting article from ECLA pastors, which starts:

Felix "Uncle Bush" Breazeale sat in the front passenger seat of the hearse headed to his funeral. In back was the coffin he'd made himself from walnut. The 73-year-old recluse was a man of few words but not even close to death on that hot June day in 1938.

Uncle Bush is played by Robert Duvall. The article continues:

A movie version of the event is expected in theaters later this year, in part because of the persistence of a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

The Rev. Scott Seeke of suburban Atlanta first heard the funeral story from relatives of his wife, the Rev. Beth Birkholz, also an ELCA pastor. Her great-grandfather, Frank Quinn, owned the Loudon, Tenn., funeral home that handled the service. Her grandfather, Frank "Buddy" Robinson, drove the hearse. Both men are now deceased.

"When Mr. Robinson told this story I thought it would be a really good movie," said Seeke, pastor of The River Church, Alpharetta, Ga., an ELCA congregation. "I called a buddy from college who was a Hollywood writer. He liked the idea. We worked on it together."    

IMDb lists 'Get Low' as being based on a story by Chris Provenzano and Scott Seeke, the reverend in the ECLA Pastors article. Beth Birkholz's great-grandfather, Frank Quinn, is played by Bill Murray. The driver, Buddy Robinson is played by Lucas Black. The buddy from college reverend Seeke called is Chris Provenzano.

Scott Seeke tells his version of how the idea for the movie came about at his blog:

While it’s a great website, Sony got the story wrong about where the movie came from. I first heard the story at lunch with my wife’s grandfather. He’s the real Buddy Robinson, played by Lucas Black. I had the idea for a movie and emailed Chris Provenzano, an old college friend working as a screenwriter in Hollywood. We got to work creating a fictional story based on the actual event, but we only knew three things: there was a funeral for an old man who was still alive, there were rumors of a murder, and ten thousand people came. That was it, but that was all we needed to create the story of Get Low.

The ECLA article links to the Tennessee State Library archive which has the above photo of Felix Breazeale at his 1938 funeral, which he attended while still alive. Bush died in 1945.

'Get Low' is expected in theaters December 26.

Friday, July 23, 2010

'Tron: Legacy' at SDCC

UnderWire on the SDCC rollout of 'Tron: Legacy'.

Review of 'Batman: Under the Red Hood'

Wired reviews 'Batman: Under the Red Hood'.

...propelled by Christopher Drake’s haunting, moody score, Vietti’s Batman: Under the Red Hood excels, like Nolan’s The Dark Knight, as a psychological thriller masquerading as a superhero film. As nastily violent as it is, it’s also engorged with intimacy and vulnerability, just waiting for a justifiable psychotic like the Red Hood to come along and puncture it with a knife, automatic rifle, or whatever’s around.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nicolas Cage: Strange and Sincere

At Slate, Dana Stevens delivers another entertaining read with her latest 'The Heat-Seeking Panther: A few thoughts on the mannered weirdness of Nicolas Cage'.

This hook, in reference to 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice', got me on board:

The movie is a flimsy Saturday-matinee contraption, an inexpert mashup of B-grade Harry Potter and retro Disney teen fare like The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.

Nicely turned. Stevens' assessment of Cage's eclectic career is spiked with well-cut insights. I especially like this observation:

When he writhes in agony beneath a mask of bees at the end of Neil LaBute's otherwise dreadful 2006 remake of the cult horror classic The Wicker Man ("No! Not the bees!"), Cage resembles no actor so much as Vincent Price in the late '60s Roger Corman adaptations of Poe stories—movies that were made as cheap potboilers but now play as minor pop masterpieces in large part thanks to Price's craftsmanlike dedication.

As Anne Thompson recently said of Cage, "...he never phones it in, no matter how bad the movie." I'd have to agree.

Neither did Vincent Price, even in the unabashedly hammed-up horror flicks in which he played a crazed and zany Dr. Phibes. Despite the demented B-movie villainy, Price instills the mad doctor with a sincerity, a humanity that transcends schlock, and you can't help being sympathetic for the guy. Price was always connected to the material -- you never felt cheated.

Like Price, Nicolas Cage always delivers his heartfelt best, utilizing a breezy virtuosity, even when he chooses to ply his craft in pure cheese-fests. You can't help but admire the guy for that.

NPR with Hans Zimmer

Talk of the Nation with Hans Zimmer, the film composer for 'Inception', 'The Dark Knight', 'Crimson Tide', 'Thelma & Louise', and others.

CONAN: And you've done, well, well over 100 movies. Does it ever - do you ever say, oh, my gosh, I can't figure out how to approach this one?

Mr. ZIMMER: Every single one. I mean, unfortunately, I think the demons are basically always there and it always starts with the blank page, and that doesn't seem to get any better. You know, on "Inception" - well, it's an easy story of - it's a heist movie with a profound love story and somewhere it all takes place in dreams, and where do we start. I mean, there are sort - but at the same time, that's what makes life exciting. It makes it interesting.

Audio: 17:02

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