Archive for the ‘Film’ Category
Posted in Film, tagged a serious man, alan rickman, Alice In Wonderland, anne hathaway, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, coen brothers, crispin glover, fear and loathing, Gene Wilder, heath ledger, helena bonham carter, hunter thompson, Ian Flemming, Johnny Depp, Lewis Carroll, lost in la mancha, Maurice Sendak, monty python, No Country For Old Men, Raising Arizona, Roald Dahl, spike jones, Terry Gilliam, The Ladykillers, tideland, tim burton, tom waits, wes anderson, where the wild things are, Willy Wonka on August 10, 2009| Leave a Comment »
A few weeks ago we posted about all the crazy remakes in the pipeline right now from Hollywoodland that, at best, seem questionable. Not to let ya think all we do around here is kvetch about things we just know will suck, here are some links to trailers that we hope don’t suck, and in some cases might be perfect antonyms to suck:
Where The Wild Things Are
Adapting a beloved children’s book for the big screen is, these days at least, a very dicey affair. For more proof see The Cat In The Hat. Once upon a time, Hollywood was actually good at this, even if they did make changes to the source material (see the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with a brilliantly creepy Gene Wilder).
Having Spike Jones attached to this does ratchet up hope for a good flick considerably. Then again, Tim Burton’s take on Roald Dahl’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory – though inspired – pales considerably to the original and is overall dissappointing.
Alice In Wonderland
Speaking of Burton, Mr. Dark n Scary (but not really) returns to his roots at Disney with another take on a children’s fave. This time, though, unlike Willy Wonka, there is no real beloved film version of Lewis Carroll’s famous story. Disney’s own take last time around, in 1951, has it’s moments but largely falls flat. Burton’s take looks intriguing, even before one factors in Mrs. Burton Helena Bonham-Carter, hot actress of the moment Anne Hathaway, and resident whackado’s Johnn Depp, Alan Rickman and Crispin Glover.
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Idiosyncratic Wes Anderson takes on perhaps the 20th century’s most beloved children’s writer Roald Dahl’s (author of many books beyond that chocolate factory one, and also author of one James Bond screenplay – You Only Live Twice – AND the screenplay of Bond author Ian Flemming’s own kids book turned silver screen gem, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) The Fantastic Mr. Fox is the most unexpected match of auteur and kids animation I can imagine this side of Jean-Luc Godard making a claymation version of Babar. (and that may be the longest run-on sentence I’ve penned yet for TLOS!)
Either way this one has the potential to be the most interesting and surprising of the fair of animation coming up.
A Serious Man
Lest you think all we do here is watch cartoons and eat cookie dough right out of the container, here’s the trailer for the latest from the Coen Brothers. After going nearly 3 years between full lengths with No Country For Old Men following up their lone dissappointment (the remake of the Alec Guinness vehicle The Ladykillers), the brothers are back on track for a movie a year with this one, described as (shockingly) a black black comedy.
I love the Coen brothers, and have since I discovered Raising Arizona back in the video store I worked in in the late 80s, but really, has any of their films NOT qualified as a “black comedy”? Still looking forward to this one.
Also noteworthy to report: it appears chinese director Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers, opening and closing ceremonies of last summer’s Beijing Olympics) will be directing a remake of the coen’s potent, spare debut, Blood Simple.
Wonder who will be expected to fill THAT GUY extraordinaire M. Emmet Walsh’s shoes.
It seems I’ve already posted the A Serious Man trailer earlier this summer…. and so while I posted about this (and a video from it) back in the spring, here is an official trailer of
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
No, The Dark Knight wasn’t Heath Ledger’s last film. The latest epic from Terry Gilliam apparently was. From Jabberwocky (made around the same time as Monty Python’s Holy Grail) through the film version of Hunter Thompson’s Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Gilliam was one of my favorite directors. Then his attempt to make a film version of Don Quixote was beset with disaster after disaster and finally had the plug pulled (documented heartbreakingly in the documentary Lost In La Mancha). Since then Gilliam has made mediocre fare (The Brothers Grimm) and then made what I can only term as a “fuck you” to film goers in general (Tideland).
I cannot recall before seeing a film from a director I loved so that appeared to be so loudly screaming “FUUUUCK YOU!!!!” to the viewer. Filled top to bottom with vile and demented characters, Tideland centers on little girl Jeliza-Rose and how she copes with the tragedy of both her parents ODing (at different times) by going into a fantasty world. But it’s view of humanity, despite Gilliams explanations that it’s ultimately hopefully about how children survive horror, is so dispicable and utterly without redemption, well, I’m not really sure what else to say about it. I’ve only been able to sit through it once, and though I normally love watching Gilliam in particular over and over again, I don’t think I could sit through this again (and I have tried).
So, this will be interesting to view in light of all that’s come in the last 10 years or so of Gilliam’s career. It received very mixed reviews at Cannes, but then even the best Gilliam films seem to receive mixed reviews. Not everyone appreciates the man’s asthetic. Anyhow, a new La Mancha project is back up and running for Gilliam (this time, according to IMDB, titled The Man Who Killed Don Quixote), so hopefully this film finds the man back in better spirits. I, for one, am very hopeful. I mean, it has Tom Waits for god’s sakes! Tom Waits!
Posted in DVD, Film, News, Recommendation, tagged 80s teen movie, Anthony Michael Hall, Farmer Ted, Helen, I think we've got an owl out here, John Cusack, John Hughes, Long Duk Dong, Sixteen Candles on August 6, 2009| Leave a Comment »
John Hughes passed away yesterday.
He was only 59!
“I can’t believe it. They fucking forgot my birthday!”
I am not embarrassed to admit that I have watched Sixteen Candles something like three zillion times. That’s a conservative estimate. And not just on-in-the-background watching, but with rapt attention. Just a perfect movie through and through.
I wished I had Farmer Ted’s confidence. He wasn’t really a farmer; he was just a geek who didn’t buy into his own geekness. And I bought into mine big-time. Farmer Ted talked a big game. Fake it ’til you make it, contrasting Samantha’s fear of going after the object of her amorous feelings — the to-die-for Jake Ryan.
Then there were the brothers, Bryce and Cliff, played by John Cusack and Darren Harris. Uber-geeky with their headsets and goggles, they’re Farmer Ted’s henchnerds, and they steal pretty much any scene they’re in.
Whatever happened to that John Cusack, anyway? He seemed to have some promise.
Anyway, I’m not here to analyze the movie or tell you about it. You know it rules. I know it rules. Let’s pay tribute to Mr. John Hughes by watching one of the best scenes right here:
Rest in peace, John Hughes. Thanks for one of my all-time favorite movies.
Posted in Film, tagged Asteroids, Baywatch, Brad Pitt, Fred Ward, Hong Kong Phooey, Joel Grey, Land Of The Lost, MacGruber, Moneyball, Remo Williams, Saturday Night Live, Steven Soderbergh, The Onion, Will Forte on July 17, 2009| Leave a Comment »
Hot on the heels of Will Ferrell’s Land Of The Lost dissappearing faster than any movie this side of Battleship Earth, over the last 2 weeks or so, the newswire of the Onion’s AV Club has reported these “scintillating” movies that have just been greenlighted for production – and not ALL are remakes of 90s movies:
Moneyball – Yes, the book about Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane’s ability to find good baseball players on the cheap is going to be made into a movie. With Brad Pitt no less (originally Steven Soderbergh was to direct). Now that sports video games have added the player contract aspect to the “gameplay” I suppose this was inevitable.
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins – The bizarre attempt to cast Fred Ward (probably most famous for his turn as astronaut Gus Grissom in The Right Stuff and as Kevin Bacon’s handy work seeking partner in Tremors) as an action hero – complete with Cabaret star, and very caucasian, Joel Grey as his Korean mentor… The original flopped even as it was being set up as a franchise…. Wonder what will happen when the adventure begins again.
MacGruber – Ahhh yes, it’s been a while since a moderately funny SNL sketch became a feature length movie (It’s Pat!). And of all the recurring characters of the current cast, Will Forte’s Macgruber parody of mulleted 80s TV hero MacGyver is the one that seems to lose it’s flavor faster than a stick of fruitstripe gum. So of course it’s the first movie choice.
Baywatch – the movie. Not sure I really need to say much about this one. But we all know that without an R rating and The Hoff, well, maybe in a few years one could pick it up on a double feature dvd also featuring Land Of The Lost.
Hong Kong Phooey – Excellent! Poorly animated 70s cartoon about a dog who’s a janitor who turns into a kung fu hero as combination live action animated film. While I know without watching it that my memories of the original are much better than it actually was, here’s hoping this one can actually be worse than the Scooby Doo movies (still can’t believe a second one was made…. who the hell is buying all these tickets???) AND Land Of The Lost.
Asteroids. The Video Game. The Movie. Yup, ever since I first played the classic early 80s game of a triangle avoiding other line drawings in roughly the shape of rocks I’ve thought, “wow – if only they could write a script for this and, instead of actively participating, I could sit on my ass and just watch this for 100 minutes, that would be fantastic.”
Here’s hoping that Cooking For Dummies will soon be a new film franchise…
and “thanks” to the Onion’s AV Club for distributing all this wonderful news…
The title of this post is often heard, at least heard by me, as critique of films that may have difficult subject matter or difficult characters. That most folks need to be able to identify with, and even sympathize with, at least one character in a film one plans on spending 90-160 minutes with is completely understandable. In most cases I do too.
Sometimes, though, I think this line is used to avoid seeing things we don’t like in film characters that we recognize (but don’t like) in ourselves. It kind of goes along with the recently outed presidential administration’s constant assertions that to acknowledge mistakes or weakness is, in fact in themselves weakness. I philosophy I find extremely flawed. But politics and self reflection are not the point of this (hopefully) brief post. The criteria people have for viewing, or rather enjoying, films has interested me since I found a real interest in film.
Films that I saw in high school and dismissed as arthouse crap and senseless bullshit I often dig now. Not that it’s arthouse, but the scant, ridiculous story and odd dialogue timbres in the recently savaged (but positively reviewed here) Speed Racer were, in my opinion anyway, responsible for many folks serious issues with that film. Similar to issues people had with Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (which, despite Keanu Reeves, I think was both well cast and a pretty decent telling of the tale).
What has made me think of this now is a line I read today in a review of Stephen Soderbergh’s new film, The Girlfriend Experience, over at Reverse Shot, by Michael Joshua Rowin. The film, about an expensive call girl who, when with her clients, acts like a girlfriend (spends the night, does other, non-sex things if desired – like a girlfriend, kisses on the lips, etc) in NYC, stars real life porn star Sasha Grey. (Glenn Kenny, the film critic/blogger behind Some Came Running has what is, by all accounts, a scene stealing part as a particularly sleazy wannabe client).
With the twin caveats of I still haven’t seen the film AND that I tend to like all of Soderbergh’s output more or less (I have great admiration for artists of any medium who can veer back and forth between commercial/mainstream ventures and more avant garde, difficult, underground adventurous ones) the line that got me in Mr. Rowin’s review was this one:
Due to Soderbergh’s status as a filmmaker who seems more concerned with showing off his director-of-photography skills via technological gimmickry or pure stylization than developing consistent themes, it’s difficult to gauge which representation he believes to be true.
What I gather from this aside is that Rowin – who both seems to know what he’s talking about film wise (more so than I) and endorses the film – believes that a filmmaker’s work should show some sort of consistent thematical arc.
And this sort of view seems as restrictive to me as, say, always having happy endings or including some sort of life lesson in one’s film. Or always having likeable characters. Or even a coherent plot.
There’s nothing wrong with having certain criteria for what makes a watchable film for you, but I do sometimes marvel at the sort of criteria people have. Or event the criteria I used to have that has since withered away in the previous 15 or so years. When I first saw Citizen Kane after my freshman year in college I thought, “that’s it? why is that so revered?” Now, having reduced my criteria of items needed to enjoy a movie, and probably from having experienced and learned appreciation of many other things, not only do I appreciate the film, but I genuinely enjoy it.
So it makes me wonder, what sorts of things are dealbreakers for you in films? A series of pretty images is just not enough? Or is it? Do you need to relate to, or at least like the characters? Does the plot need to make sense? (It doesn’t really make sense in The Big Sleep, but that is one of the best regarded – and my favorite – of the Bogart/Bacall films).
Just random musings on a tuesday afternoon in June.