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Posted on 06/27/2012 5:58 PM
WILL UPDATE WITHIN THE NEXT 14 DAYS
Posted on 02/13/2012 3:51 AM
THE GIRL WHO DARED (1944)
A group of people show up one stormy night at the isolated house of the Richmonds, on an island attached to the mainstream by a causeway, invited for a ghost-hunting party. Folklore has it that years ago the island was a pirate hideaway, and one night the lighthouse malfunctioned and a boatload of pirates were killed in a wreck; supposedly a pirate ghost appears down at the wreck at midnight. Among the guests are Josh and his lovely sister Ann; the squabbling, recently divorced couple Sylvia and David; Sylvia's twin sister Cynthia; and some guy named Homer. But the guests are all surprised to find out that the Richmonds didn't actually send out the invitations; since they're all there, they make the best of it, have cocktails, and go out to see the ghost. First though, they hear a radio report that a Dr. Dexter is on the loose, having stolen some radium from a local hospital. Then they are joined by a guy named Blair, a mechanic who brought Josh and Ann over when their car broke down. We know he's not really a mechanic however, and we see him disable all the other cars so everyone will have to stay overnight. At the site of the wreck, they see a ghostly figure rise from the mist and Sylvia faints away. But she's not scared, she's dead. She's also only the first to die before the mysteries of who is who and who done what & why are solved.
This is a Republic B-thriller in the "old dark house" mode complete with ghosts and storms and secret passages, and as such, a passable entry. It's a little too obvious who's nice and who's naughty here, so the playing-out of the tangled relationships has few surprises. Peter Cookson as Blair is B-hero handsome so you know he's a good guy, and Lorna Gray (Ann) is fine as the good girl that he flirts with. Kirk Alyn, the first live-action Superman, is effective as Josh; B-film queen Veda Ann Borg has the dual role of the twin sisters. In more Superman trivia, John Hamilton (Perry White in the Superman TV series) is Richmond, and Roy Barcroft (who guested on a Superman episode) is David. Willie Best is ill-used as the scared black butler. There are plotholes best not thought about, but overall this hour-long mystery is mostly fun. [Netflix]
LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (1961)
This stunning looking black & white movie opens with long lovely tracking shots of the ceilings and walls and ornamentation of an elegant, sprawling, palatial hotel as a man’s spoken narrative (along the lines of “I walk on, down these corridors, in this hotel, corridor after endless corridor…”) is repeated five times. Eventually we see an audience of well-dressed, wealthy people gathered in a hotel auditorium watching a play (to which the narration may or may not belong). We hear snatches of conversation, people walking about and sometimes freezing in place. A plot seems to be introduced: Giorgio Albertazzi approaches the lovely but distant Delphine Seyrig (pictured below) and mentions having met her last year at a similar hotel in Frederiksbad or Marienbad or somewhere, and engaging in an affair with her. She claims not to remember, then does, then doesn’t. He spins different versions of their meeting and we eventually see what might be flashbacks (or fantasies or alternate timelines). We also meet Sascha Pitoeff, a gaunt man in a dark suit, apparently the woman’s husband, who figures in some of the flashbacks. There may have been a rape, or a violent attack by Pitoeff, or no contact at all. Albertazzi and Seyrig wander around the hotel grounds and its starkly beautiful gardens with perfectly triangular hedges and large marble statues. Often the dialogue or narration does not match up with what’s happening on screen. In the end, Seyrig agrees to go off with Albertazzi, but they simply blend in with the crowd in the garden (as in The Prisoner, perhaps, no one gets out of the Village).
This is indeed beautiful to behold: the stark sets, the slow tracking and swirling of the camera, the beautiful but empty people posing against beautiful but empty backgrounds—if you’ve seen Calvin Klein ads from the past 20 years, or in fact any number of high fashion ad campaigns, you’ve seen something influenced by this film, directed by Alain Resnais and written by French novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet. In its time, the movie was controversial, mostly met with disdain by filmgoers not used to fragmented and inconclusive narratives (though readers of Virginia Woolf or James Joyce or Gertrude Stein would not have been quite so confused). Now, with Kubrick’s languorous pacing, David Lynch’s ambiguous and dreamlike stylings, and even the alternate narratives of TV’s Lost, current-day viewers won’t be caught quite so off-guard. Still, it’s not for everyone’s taste. The only excitement here is mental. If you can put up with a movie that plays out like a game with few rules and no conclusion, this might be for you. And if you can’t, then just turn the sound off and enjoy the absolutely gorgeous camerawork. [DVD]
Lefty (Ralph Graves) is a college football player who becomes infamous for losing a game by running the wrong the way down the field. After the game, Panama (Jack Holt), a marine sergeant, befriends him (in a men's room!) and soon Lefty has joined the Marines, Panama is his flight teacher, and both men fall in love with a nurse (Lila Lee). Lefty shows promise, but on his first solo flight, he freezes up and can't get his plane off the ground so he's grounded. When the Marines are called into Nicaragua to deal with some murderous bandits, Panama takes Lefty along as his mechanic, and when Lee shows up, the two men fight over her. During a raid on the bandits, the plane Lefty's riding on doesn’t return to the base, and Panama, despite his anger, flies out into dangerous territory to find him. In the rescue, Panama is wounded; will Lefty be able to overcome his fear and fly himself and Panama out of peril?
This very early Frank Capra sound film has a plot that, if it wasn’t cliché at this point (military buddies who become romantic rivals), soon would be, especially during the first rush of patriotic WWII films. Capra's style is energetic but erratic, with some awkwardly shot scenes (even a couple out of focus) which probably should have been re-shot--though they do give the film a certain rough-edged appeal. With a plot like this, the chemistry between the lead actors is important, and though Lee is a zero, Holt and Graves (who co-wrote the screenplay with Capra) are good. There's an odd scene with an improvised feel in which, during a mock fight in their tent, Holt flips Graves over and spanks him. Between that and the men meeting cute in a bathroom, I'd like to give this a gay reading, but I'm not sure it would hold up. There is some good aerial footage, and some bad use of miniatures (and a surprising line of vulgar dialogue: "Cut the crap!"); overall, interesting as a relic but not crucial viewing. [TCM]
THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG (1927)
THE STUDENT PRINCE (1954)
The aging King Karl VII of Karlsberg greets his nephew, the crown prince Karl Heinrich, a mere child who has arrived to begin the proper schooling and training for a future king. The hundreds of people lining the street to catch a glimpse of him all doff their hats in unison, and cannon shots fired in his honor scare the boy, who longs to be allowed to play with the other children outside the palace gates. His tutor, Dr, Juttner, sympathizes with the boy and helps him to have fun as he teaches him. Years later, Karl passes his exams (barely) and is sent with his tutor to study at the university in Old Heidelberg. He stays at a humble inn and falls for Kathi, the lively barmaid and favorite of all the students who congregate to drink and sing in the inn's courtyard. She tells Karl she's engaged "but not so terribly" so, and even though he has had a bride picked out for him by his uncle, the two begin a springtime affair. He also becomes good friends with some fellow students who don't know he's the crown prince. Eventually, however, his fling with "normal" life comes to an end when the old king gets sick and Karl must return to the palace. Both the King and the tutor die, and before being crowned king, Karl decides to take one last visit to Old Heidelberg where he learns that you cannot recapture the past.
This is a charming romantic comedy, despite its inevitable bittersweet ending, based on a play but better known as an operetta by Sigmund Romberg, who wrote the music to several Jeanette McDonald & Nelson Eddy musicals. The 1927 version is a silent film, so there are no songs, though you can see where they would fit—and indeed there is one song "sung" by Norma Shearer, as Kathi, with its lyrics presented on title cards. The wonderful score for the version shown on Turner Classic by Carl Davis makes up for the lack of songs. Shearer is delightful as the barmaid and Ramon Novarro is just as good as the prince, torn between his love for Shearer and the student life, and his duty to become king. Jean Hersholt is fine as the friendly tutor. Ernst Lubitsch directs with a light touch and adds several stylish flourishes, the best being a lovely scene between Novarro and Shearer in a windy starlit meadow. With the high spirits and good performances, one doesn't miss spoken dialogue at all.
The 50s version is a color musical with most of the Romberg music, but somehow it's not as fun as the silent film. The entire segment with the prince as a child is missing here, and there's a silly rivalry between two of the student groups that takes up too much screen time. The prince is played by the handsome but generally lifeless Edmund Purdom (who does a nice job lip-syncing the songs, recorded by opera singer Mario Lanza), and Kathi is Ann Blyth, who works a little too hard at being charming; they have very little chemistry. Edmund Gwenn is fine as the tutor, Louis Calhern is the old king, and S. Z. Sakall is Kathi's father, a part that has been beefed up a bit here. If you have to pick just one version, I would recommend the silent one. [TCM]
Margie (Jeannie Crain) and her teenage daughter are cleaning out the attic and come upon some artifacts of Margie's own teen years during the late 1920s, leading Mom to tell the story of her senior year in high school. Back then, Margie was lovely but a little awkward socially—at least 3 times during the movie, she loses her bloomers because she's negligent about attending to the elastic. She begins dating the nerdy but nice Roy (Alan Young), but quickly falls for the new handsome and sophisticated French teacher, Mr. Fontayne (Glenn Langan). Actually, most of the girls in school are gaga for him, though he seems interested in Miss Palmer, the librarian (Lynn Bari). When Roy falls ill and can't take Margie to the prom, she gets the impression that Mr. Fontayne is going to step in and take her, which is what she tells her best friend, but instead he's taking Miss Palmer. How will Margie ever save face?
It feels like this cutesy nostalgia piece was conceived to cash in the popularity of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. It’s light, fluffy and likeable but can't compete with the Judy Garland classic. For starters, the plot is satisfyingly thin, rarely straying from Margie and Mr. Fontayne’s "will they or won’t they get together" storyline. There is a sideplot involving Margie's widowed undertaker father of whom she sees very little, which gets folded into the prom plot. There is also a nice comic scene of Margie participating in a debate club event. However, both Alan Young and Lynn Bari are wasted in trifling roles, the bloomers gag gets old fast, and though the movie is in color, it's not very colorful. There are a few pluses: Crain is lovely and generally charming and Langan pulls off the good-looking, older man role well, without ever seeming creepy (it's dropped at one point that he's really not that much older than Crain, just in case the audience is a little queasy). Period music is used to good effect. The best scenes in the film are stolen by Barbara Lawrence as Marybelle, Crain's sexy blonde best friend, and Conrad Janis as her hunky jock boyfriend "Johnnykins"; the two have chemistry and when they're on screen, they can’t stop moving, always dancing together even when there's no music. The movie's worth watching for those two alone. [TCM]
WOMAN'S WORLD (1954)
Clifton Webb, the head of an automobile company, needs to fill the position of general manager at his New York City office and brings three managers and their wives in from other cities to interview for the job: 1) Fred MacMurray has developed an ulcer and his wife Lauren Bacall is ready to leave him over his obsession with work, but he's the only one of the three who seems to desperately want the job; 2) Cornel Wilde is critical of modern business methods and his wife, June Allyson, is reluctant to give up their wholesome Midwestern family life; 3) Van Heflin is competent but not terribly ambitious, though his wife, Arlene Dahl (pictured with Webb), is plenty ambitious for both of them and loves the idea of moving to the Big Apple. Though Webb interviews all the men, it's his theory that paying attention to the wives is equally important if not more so, so he arranges a series of social situations in which they can all interact. Bacall, despite her problems with MacMurray, works at making a good impression; sweet Allyson keeps saying the wrong thing, especially one night when she gets a little drunk; sexy Dahl tries using her seductive wiles on Webb. Ultimately, it's the behavior of the wives and how their husbands react that determines who Webb chooses for the job.
This is one of those 50s movies with a wide screen filled with attractive sets and mannered performances covering up a fairly shallow story that might work better on television. The idea here, that the wives are better indicators of the men's suitability for the job then the men themselves, is clever, and Webb's final decision may surprise some viewers, but the characters are all surface with little depth. Still, this generally held my interest. Allyson and Dahl play their parts rather broadly, but the other actors are fine, with Heflin and Bacall standouts. Elliot Reid and Margalo Gillmore as relatives of Webb's are also fine. Webb is his usual brittle self; predictable but fun to watch. I particularly like Webb actually saying the clichéd line, "I like your spunk" to Wilde. [FMC]
OEDIPUS THE KING (1968)
OEDIPUS REX (1967)
Two film adaptations of the Sophocles play "Oedipus the King" were done within a year of each other, both taking very different approaches to the material. The 1968 British film follows the play's action and dialogue closely. It's stagy even though it's filmed on outdoor locations in Greece, but it records a very theatrical and effective performance by Christopher Plummer in the title role. The film begins with Thebes in the throes of a plague that is killing off people, crops and animals. Oedipus, who arrived in town years ago not long after the unsolved murder of King Laius and became King (and husband to Queen Jocasta) thanks to his defeat of the monstrous Sphinx, has sent his brother-in-law Creon to the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi to get advice from the gods. Creon (Richard Johnson) returns around the same time as the blind prophet Tiresias (Orson Welles) shows up and both have essentially the same message: the killer of Laius is still in Thebes and must be exposed. The story that eventually comes out is that Oedipus himself is the killer of Laius; in trying to escape a foretold fate that he would kill his father and marry his mother, he left Corinth so as not to hurt his parents and wound up in Thebes. What he didn’t know is that Laius and Jocasta were actually his parents; when Laius was told that his child would kill him, he tied the baby's ankles together and left him in the wilderness to die. Little Oedipus was found by a shepherd, taken to Corinth, and adopted by the King and Queen. So in trying to escape his fate by leaving his adopted parents (thinking they were his real parents), he actually sealed his fate: he killed Laius in self-defense and married his real mother, Queen Jocasta. When all is made clear, Jocasta (Lilli Palmer) hangs herself and Oedipus blinds himself by thrusting her hair pins in his eyes.
This version was certainly not produced with the intention of being a commercial blockbuster, but a movie tie-in edition of the play was published in 1968 with photographs from the Plummer film—and I owned a copy at the tender age of 12. As it follows the play very closely, and is well acted, even if it never quite achieves the tragic power the material calls for, this would be a good teaching tool, but the film is very difficult to find today. After over 40 years of trying to see it, I finally found it posted in several parts on YouTube. It’s not the ideal venue but it’s better than not seeing the film at all. Plummer is excellent, the other lead actors are fine, and the device of having various men speak the lines of the chorus works nicely. Less effective is when all the townsmen say some lines in unison, but it’s not done too often. The suicide and blinding are powerful without being unduly graphic. Indeed if this were on DVD, I imagine it would be being viewed in classrooms all over the country. [YouTube]
A year before, Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini adapted the same material in a very different style, with the title OEDIPUS REX. The biggest change is that Oedipus’s story is told chronologically, beginning with his birth, so that the first half of the movie is material that, in the ’68 version, is not presented onscreen. The first few minutes are set in modern dress and setting (as is the last scene); Laius seems to simply sense that his child will kill him (the information is conveyed on a title card) so ties the kid’s ankles, hangs him upside down like a pig, and has him taken to the desert. The rest of the story (Oedipus going to the oracle, heading to Thebes, killing Laius, and bedding his mother) is acted out in a desert-like surrounding, in more or less period dress. The sexy Jocasta (Silvana Mangano) doesn’t seem to be that much older than Oedipus (Franco Citti, pictured), and their sex scenes, while not graphic, do generate some heat. The defeat of the Sphinx, which in tradition occurs by Oedipus answering a riddle, is presented here as a physical battle. When the truth of his fate begins to dawn on Oedipus, the story bogs down as he keeps denying the truth of what he has done. Citti is not a Shakespearean actor like Plummer, and tends to bounce between sullenness and hysteria, but he does have a certain physical power. Like many Pasolini films, this occasionally feels like an amateur or avant-garde production—shots held too long, use of non-pro actors (though Living Theater co-founder Julian Beck plays Tiresias)—but it’s interesting for its presentation of the entire narrative as drama rather than half of it being told as exposition. If you’re a Pasolini fan, this film will seem very familiar to you. If not, you might to stick to the British film. [DVD]
PANIC ON THE AIR (1936)
Lew Ayres is a New York radio personality, broadcasting sports during the day and hot city news at night. During a World Series game which Detroit loses to New York, Ayres wonders why Lefty, Detroit's well-known pitcher, didn't play. It turns out that Lefty wound up in possession of a screwy five dollar bill—the picture of Lincoln had a mustache drawn on it and a code in numbers was highlighted—and even though he spent the bill, a hard-faced blonde and a ruffian were after him to get the bill back. Ayers, whose sponsor, Mr. Gordon of Gordon's Garters, thinks his ratings need a boost, takes off with his sidekick Benny Baker to crack the case before the police, which they do. This hour-long B-mystery from Columbia is about par for the course. It winds up involving a decade-old kidnapping, a criminal's widow, and $200,000 hidden somewhere in the city. Ayers, a couple of years before he started his Dr. Kildare series, makes an appealing hero, though his sidekick (pictured above on the left with Ayres on the right) is a bit too laconic and his leading lady, Florence Rice, rather bland. Lack of background music and, more importantly, lack of action, hurts the film, though one scene set in the darkened office of a cryptologist is nicely atmospheric. There's not much humor, and no real chemistry between any of the leading players, but I did like the running gag of the Chinese houseboy named McNulty. [TCM]
GIRLS ON THE LOOSE (1958)
This fairly standard B-crime movie starts cold with the robbery of a company's payroll of $200,000 by masked figures; later, it's revealed that the culprits are all sexy young women who bury the money for two years, then intend to split it five ways. The mastermind is nightclub owner Vera (Mara Corday); her younger sister Helen (Barbara Bostock), a singer at the club, is the getaway car driver who didn't realize until the next morning what she was involved in. There's also Agnes, the insider who knew how to time the robbery; Marie, a French hairdresser; and Joyce, a blond masseuse. Of course, as anyone who has seen TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE knows, things start to fall apart before the riches can be claimed. Agnes, certain that her bosses will find out about her part in the crime, gets a little hysterical, so Vera (in a meticulously planned scene) gasses her and makes it look like a suicide… and then there were four. A cop (Peter Mark Richman), knowing Vera and Agnes were friends, comes to the club asking questions and falls for Helen, though Vera does everything in her power to keep them apart. Meanwhile, more tensions arise between the four: Marie wants to claim her share now and Joyce is afraid that Helen will squawk to the cop, so mayhem ensues until it's just Vera and Helen… and the cop.
This isn’t exactly a good movie, but the plot and characters kept my interest. The acting is on a typical B-level, with Corday, a minor B-movie queen in the 50's, great fun. My favorite scene in the movie involves her flirtation with a new grocery delivery boy (Ronald Green, above with Corday). The boy is handsome but terribly wooden; when she asks him if he's as dependable as her previous delivery boy, he looks straight ahead and says, in a monotone, "I'm very dependable, you'll see." They grab each other around the waist and the scene fades out, though he crops up in a couple more scenes (with no lines) as her kept boy. Abby Dalton, who became a substantial TV star (Falcon Crest) is good as Agnes. The movie was directed in a drab TV-movie style by Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo in CASABLANCA). This was fun to run across on TCM's Underground. [TCM]
SHADOW IN THE SKY (1952)
Ralph Meeker and James Whitmore (pictured) were Army buddies in WWII and during a battle in the rain-drenched South Pacific, Meeker saved Whitmore's life. A few years later, Whitmore, a mechanic, is married to Meeker's sister (Nancy Davis) but Meeker is institutionalized, a victim of shellshock. He's progressed over time, but whenever it rains, Meeker goes into a hysterical panic. A nurse who has fallen for Meeker (Jean Hagen) comes to Whitmore's home and tells them that Meeker is desperate to get out of the hospital; Whitmore and Davis visit him frequently but aren't sure they’re ready to take him in, especially with two children in the house. Eventually they do and things are fine for a while, but soon tensions develop: Hagen wants Meeker to come to Oregon and work on her family's farm, but Whitmore wants him to help out at the garage, and Meeker just wants to be left alone to renovate an old boat he's bought. And of course, there's always the worry over what will happen when it rains. Of course, things come to a climax during a nighttime storm.
This is one of those serious, earnest psychological melodramas which were popular in the 50s but which haven't worn well over the years. Whitmore and Davis are OK, but they're just so anguished, and that anguish becomes each one's sole character trait. Meeker, on the other hand, gets a decent range of emotions—he's often anguished but he's also nervous and touchy and angry and sometimes funny—and he makes the movie worth seeing (and his appealing physical presence is a plus). Hagen, just before her breakout role as Lina Lamont in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, is fresh-faced and threatens to be a lively presence (she tools around in a truck and has a tomboyish appeal) but in the last third of the film, her character is reduced to little more than a footnote. The "mystery" of the rain is solved in a satisfying manner, but why no one figured it out long before is a mystery of its own. [TCM]
Posted on 01/27/2012 6:21 AM
New Transformers 3 Posters: Optimus Prime & Bumblebee
We have added two new posters for Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, which features Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Frances McDormand, Alan Tudyk, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Frank Welker, James Avery, Peter Cullen, and directed by Michael Bay.
Bay has done a lot of work for his third and final Transformers movie and a lot of people are closely watching the project after Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’s box office hit and critics failure.
What do you think of new posters for Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon? Like what you see so far?
Click on the poster to see a larger version:
Optimus Prime, Transformers 3 Poster
Bumblebee, Transformers 3 Poster
Posted on 01/27/2012 6:14 AM
Final Destination 5 Poster: Death Has Never Been Closer
Recently, we added the first trailer for “Final Destination 5” Today we have new poster for New Line/Warner Bros. horror film.
In “Final Destination 5″, Death is just as omnipresent as ever, and is unleashed after one man’s premonition saves a group of coworkers from a terrifying suspension bridge collapse. But this group of unsuspecting souls was never supposed to survive, and, in a terrifying race against time, the ill-fated group frantically tries to discover a way to escape Death’s sinister agenda.
The film, directed by Steven Quale, stars Nick D’Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Arlen Escarpeta, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, P.J. Byrne, Ellen Wroe, Courtney B. Vance, David Koechner and Tony Todd.
“Final Destination 5” opens in 2D and 3D theaters nationwide on August 26, 2011.
Final Destination 5 Poster
Posted on 01/25/2012 5:00 PM
What Are The Women Directors Doing? Current Sci-Fi, Horror, And Fantasy You Want To Know About
So, you normally don't hear about what women are directing in horror, sci-fi, and fantasy? That's because other assholes don't write about it. Only this asshole does. And there's a lot of new films projects you'll want to check out, if you're a real fannerd.
Aside from German-language release Lollipop Monster by Franziska Riemann and Larysa Kondracki's thriller in mainstream theaters, The Whistleblower, there's a bunch of shit to check out this summer.
Also in theaters is director/writer Miranda July's fantasy film The Future (see our review) opening on August 5th, 2011. This is July's second feature as director, the first being Me and You and Everyone We Know, which everyone who loves arty movies said was amazing. There's a talking cat and romance and a goregous beauty to The Future. Watch the stunning trailer:
At the end of August, 2011, FrightFest UK in London is screening Emily Hagin's newest horror comedy feature - My Sucky Teen Romance. Hagin's is one of the youngest (still) genre filmmakers, having been creating her own movies, which have been screener worldwide, since she was twelve. Susan Jacobson's paranormal thriller The Holding has the honor of being the ONLY film screening in Frightfest's 2011 main competition that is directed by a woman.
The Holding Trailer:
My Sucky Teen Romance:
Mia Trachinger's short sci-fi movie Exposure has been getting a lot of attention, as it is a part of the ambitiousFutureStatesseries of social commentary/sci-fi movies. But it is Nisha Ganatra's entry into FutureStates, a sci-fi gem calledBeholder, that is playing at Outfest this month on July 11th, 2011. Can't make it to the fest? You can actually watchExposure and Beholder on your computer here and here. Trachinger's big news is that her feature sci-fi, Reversion, is making the rounds in festivals and screenings, probably coming to a DVD near you very soon. Check out this clip of the two main characters discussing time, and science, and nerdy sci-fi stuff: (Want more clips of Reversion? Here they are).
Maude Michaud's online web documentary, Bloody Breasts, exploring the relationship between feminism and horror movies has a 4th episode featuring ME, Shannon Lark, Elisabeth Fies, and Brea Grant talking about, well, horror films:
You can check out the web series's pervious entries at the official website. It's part of Michaud's master's degree in film, and beats a lot of those other unprofessional sexploitation films that pretend to investigate women's role in genre.
Speaking of web series, Letia Clouston's sci-fi/action webseries Broken Toy has just put out episode 5:
Episodes 1-4, and later epsiodes, are all at the official Youtube page.
American World Pictures is going to distribute Kimberly Seilhamer's new horror feature, which won best indie genre film in Cannes' independent competition, Jack the Reaper, sometime in the near future. We'll keep you posted! In the meantime, watch the trailer:
Hannelle Culpepper's long-awaited paranormal thriller about a little girl who can see evil spirits, Within, is finally being released through Bigfoot Entertainment on July 25th, 2011! Check out the trailer:
Breaking Glass Pictures is releasing both Rania Ajami's sci-fi/fantasy Asylum Seekers on August 30th, 2011 AND Faye Jackon's vampire film Strigoi on August 3, 2011. The DVD of Strigoi will feature Jackson's short film Lump, which was a selection of the 2007 Viscera Film Festival
Watch the trailer for Strigoi:
Watch the trailer for Asylum Seekers:
In The Woods, the feature thriller by Vilma Zenelaj, just took home Best Feature at the 2011 Detroit Windsor Film Festival on June 27th, 2011! This Albanian/USA production It'll be poking its head out on DVD soon, we hope. Watch the trailer:
In just-about-to-happen news, journalist-turned-actress-turned-director Axelle Carolyn has just finished shooting her new horror short Hooked in Los Angeles. This is her second film, and it stars R.A. Mihailoff and Clare Grant.
Check out this image of Mihailoff as some kind of (hopefully) deranged fisherman/hook-killer-type:
Claire Llewellyn's indie short Conscience has a trailer out, which shows her exploration of a Hannibal-like serial killer and his biggest fan in morbid detail:
Jovanka Vuckovic's directorial debut, The Captured Bird, produced by Guillermo del Toro and featuring amazing puppetry and expensive practical effects, is wrapped, and we're hoping for a trailer soon. Some really gorgeous still photos from the set have been released, in the meantime, like this one:
Jen and Sylvia Soska, the directors of Dead Hooker in a Trunk, while making announcements about pre-production for their latest horror flick American Mary, have also dropped the bombshell that they'd like to remake their own version of The Addams Family. No shit. Read all about it here.
And, finally, screen siren Ruby LaRocca is reported to be directing a segment of the indie horror anthology Scream Queen Campfire called "The Landlord", and actress Jackey Hall will pick up the directing reigns for the first time on the segments "Wrong Number" and "The Invited." Related is the revelation that actress Kesley Zukowski, who was a writer on Scream Queen Campfire, will be directing segments in the new-er horror anthology Trick or Eat (previously titled Trial by Terror??) once filming is underway. More news as that unfolds...
Speaking of the Viscera Film Festival, the official 2011 Event, which shows only the best new short horror films directed by women (I should know, I'm the film programmer) is happening in Los Angeles at the Silent Movie Theater on July 17th, 2011. It's the only place you can get a sneak peek at the teaser trailer for American Mary, Susan Bell's L.A.G.P., and Nikki Wall's short film Box, plus a slew of trailers and shorts directed by some of the best new talent in the industry. Read about the festival and buy tickets to this unique genre experience at the official website: www.viscerafilmfestival.com.
I'll bet you didn't know any of this shit before you read it, did you?
(If I forgot anyone, feel free to comment about your project below)
Posted on 01/24/2012 3:27 PM
Austin Cinematic Limits: Austin Takes Sundance By Storm [Again]
I promise not to begin every Austin Cinematic Limits post with a discussion on Richard Linklater’s significance to Austin’s filmmaking community, but he is an integral piece of the puzzle when it comes to Austin’s long-standing relationship with the Sundance Film Festival. Other Austin filmmakers may have traveled with films to Sundance before him (though I am not sure who they are), but Linklater deserves the credit for initially spraying Austin’s mark on the snowy slopes of Sundance with his regional premiere of Slacker in 1991 — and Linklater did not end his relationship with Sundance there, as he holds the distinction of being the Austin director who has screened the most feature films at Sundance (Slacker , Before Sunrise , SubUrbia , Waking Life  and Tape ).
Ever since Linklater plowed that initial path in January 1991, Austin filmmakers have frequented the silver screens at Sundance year after year. In fact, no matter how you define an Austin filmmaker or Austin film production, I guarantee that Austin ranks extremely high on the list of cities that have sent the most films to Sundance. In turn, Sundance has done a lot for Austin’s reputation as the “Third Coast” of filmmaking in the United States; Sundance has also helped launch the careers of several now-famous Austin filmmakers including Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi), Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket [13 min short]), Catherine Hardwicke (thirteen), and the Duplass brothers (The Puffy Chair).
The Invasion Begins
It was not until more recently — let’s say 2008 — that festival-goers in Park City probably began to question whether there might be something supernatural in Central Texas’ water supply as Austin’s cinematic output was suddenly cranked up to 11. Sure, the premiere of The Puffy Chair (Sundance 2005) was Jay and Mark Duplass’ first break into the national consciousness, but the Duplass brothers were catapulted into the big leagues whenBaghead was snatched up by Sony Pictures Classics during Sundance 2008. (Disclaimer: Jay and Mark Duplass were not technically living in Austin at the time, but they will always remain to be Austinites in the hearts and minds of Austinites.) And let’s not forget the international headlines generated by the Sundance 2008 premieres of Margaret Brown’s The Order of Myths and the PJ Raval-lensed Trouble the Water. Oh, and the Zellner brothers debuted their feature film, Goliath, there too. (I still hold firmly to the belief that the only reason Goliath was not a bigger hit was because it was handcuffed by copyright issues.)
Another remarkable year at Sundance for Austin filmmakers was 2010… That was the year Bryan Poyser wowed audiences with the world premiere of Lovers of Hate; all the while, the Duplass brothers proved with Cyrus that high profile actors and a significantly larger budget does not always mean directorial compromise. (Both films went on to earn nominations at the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards.) Two other noteworthy features — Ryan Piers Williams’ The Dry Land and Anthony Burns’ Skateland — enjoyed successful premieres at Sundance as well. And that’s not all… Austin filmmakers also delivered a couple of short films to Sundance 2010: the Zellner brothers’ Fiddlestixx and Amy Grappell’s Quadrangle. This seminal year also marked the Sundance premiere of a future Austinite, Clay Liford’s short film My Mom Smokes Weed.
Everyone thought Sundance 2010 would be the pinnacle of Austin’s presence in Park City; but, Sundance 2011 might have topped it, if for one premiere alone — Jeff Nichols’ Take Shelter. Sony Pictures Classics had already purchased Take Shelter (sight unseen, no less) prior to its world premiere at Park City’s Eccles Center, but at least a year’s worth of glowing critical buzz was generated by the film’s Sundance screenings. (Take Shelterreceived five nominations at the 2012 Independent Spirit Awards.) Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg also enjoyed a tremendous U.S. premiere at Sundance 2011 and — along with Nichols’ Take Shelter — enjoyed countless year-end accolades as a result. (Disclaimer: Tsangari no longer uses Austin as her home address, but she did spend a lot of quality time here, co-founding Cinematexas, earning a MFA from the University of Texas at Austin and lecturing at UT.) Two short films from Austin also premiered at Sundance 2011: the Zellner brothers’ Sasquatch Birth Journal 2 and David Lowery’s Pioneer.
The Year 2012
That brings us to Sundance 2012… The Zellner Brothers are in Park City right now with their newest feature,Kid-Thing. (For those of you who are keeping score, Kid-Thing is the second feature of the Zellner brothers to premiere at Sundance — they have also premiered five short films there as well.) Kid-Thing is a drama about a young girl named Annie (Sydney Aguirre) who relies on shoplifting for survival; her life becomes increasingly complicated following a strange discovery in the woods near her home. Aguirre (who made her cinematic debut in the Zellner Brothers’ short film, The Virile Man) shares the screen with David Zellner, Nathan Zellner and Susan Tyrrell (Cry-Baby, Fat City).
Short films by two of Austin’s most highly regarded filmmakers will also be featured at Sundance 2012. Kyle Henry already has one Sundance premiere — Room (Sundance 2005) — under his belt. (Room went on to screen at Cannes 2005 in the Directors’ Fortnight section and was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards.) This time around, Henry (who is currently a professor at Northwestern University) will screen Fourplay: Tampa, the second of four subjectively related shorts that will eventually be released as a feature film. (Fourplay: Tampahad its world premiere at Cannes 2011 in the Directors’ Fortnight section). Fourplay: Tampa is about a late-twenties man, Louis (Jose Villarreal), and his hapless attempts at having sexual relations in a Tampa mall’s public restroom. When reality fails to quench his sexual desires, Louis’ wildly homoerotic imagination takes over and the restroom mutates into a surreal orgy of fictional characters and historical figures. Even in this fantasy world, Louis is left humiliated and unsatisfied…that is until his own personal savior arrives and gives him a heavenly blow job.
After perusing Kat Candler’s impressive resume (specifically her amazing 2006 feature, Jumping Off Bridges), it is very surprising that Hellion is her very first film to be accepted into Sundance. What promises to evolve into a mayhem-filled feature-length film, Hellion serves as a six-minute introduction to three young brothers (Deke Garner, Arthur Dale and Tommy Hohl). The three hellions have been left alone with an unqualified babysitter (Karinne Bersti) who has already been removed from the equation; all hell breaks loose, but soon the boys are forced to suffer the consequences of their father’s (Jonny Mars) mighty belt. Shot in Georgetown, Hellion was produced by Kelly Williams (former program director of the Austin Film Festival).
Watch: The trailer for Kat Candler’s Hellion:
Mark Duplass (who still lives in Los Angeles, though his brother Jay has returned to residing in Austin) stars in three Sundance 2012 premieres — Colin Trevorrow’s Safety Not Guaranteed, Katie Aselton’s Black Rock and Lynn Shelton’s Your Sister’s Sister.
Cinematic Things To Do in Austin This Week:
1/24 – Violet Crown Cinema – Heather Courtney’s Where Soldiers Come From won the 2012 Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award, now the Texas Independent Film Network is hosting screenings of Courtney’s documentary around Texas, including this one in Austin at the Violet Crown Cinema. (More info)
1/24-1/25 – Paramount Theatre – The Paramount’s Winter Comedy Series continues with a Woody Allen double feature of Bananas and Love and Death. (More info)
1/26 – Salvage Vanguard Theater – Join Cinema41 in their new home, the Salvage Vanguard Theater, for a screening of Sam Green and Bill Siegel’s documentary The Weather Underground. (More info) (Also get your film nerd on at Cinema41′s Trivia41 at the Dive Bar on 1/24.)
1/27 – 1/29 – Alamo Ritz – The Late Show concludes its month-long focus on the great supporting roles of Harry Dean Stanton with three screenings of David Lynch’s Wild At Heart. (More info)
Posted on 01/24/2012 8:34 AM
Science Fiction has seen somewhat of a resurgence these past few years, bringing dozens of different aliens to Earth’s surface via cinema screens. Tom Cruise battled aliens in War of the Worlds, aliens broke down in South Africa over District 9, and more recently Transformers waged war on our planet, Los Angeles was invaded, and a subterranean alien was interrogated in a small town, only to escape.
No matter what year it happened, one thing is clear: when aliens come in peace, all is well. When they don’t, well, they’re the ones in for an ass whooping. Not that it makes much sense, considering alien species that manage to make it to Earth are often technologically advanced, super strong, intelligent, and sporting a massive boner for our resources, not to mention laser guns.
Despite all of this, when have aliens ever managed a successful takeover? Not only that – when have aliens ever managed to not look like completely retarded asshats, who pretty much design their own downfall as if they were Death Star engineers?
To back up my “aliens as idiots” theory, we’re going to take a look at a few attempted alien invasions and pinpoint the exact spot where the invasion went wrong, or what their ridiculously obvious weakness was.
The Weakness: Autobots
The Decepticons are awesome. They’re gigantic, merciless, and armed to the teeth. You’d think they’d be able to successfully and violently take over just about anything. After all, they number in the dozens, if not hundreds, across the various movies. They probably would succeed too, if it weren’t for about 8 Autobots at a time. No matter the number of Decepticons or how many awesome space gunships they have, it only takes about 8 Autobots and the power of free will to defeat them.
The Weakness: Dehydration
As one of the sneakier alien races, these buggers attempted to slowly infiltrate our ranks by targeting, what else, a single High School. Makes sense, I guess, if you’re a dumb alien. A dumb alien with a pretty adverse reaction to dehydration. As humans, we’ll die in a few days from dehydration, but these “water-based” aliens take a single hit of speed and dry up quicker than a nun’s vagina on Sunday. (On Saturdays nuns are notoriously wet.)
War of the Worlds
The Weakness: Improper Ventilation
The aliens in this story deserve some credit – they kicked the shit out of Earthlings for weeks and had us on the run the whole time, thanks to their advanced technology. They spend much of their invasion safely in their ships and walkers, vaporizing people. In the business of space travel and vaporization, one thing you need is a great ventilation sytem – something the aliens have neglected, considering they are en masse infected by lowly bacteria, that ravages their biology and kills them quicker than RAID. With better ventilation, or a completely closed system, like what our spacebound explorers use, they would have completely dominated us.
Battle: Los Angeles
The Weakness: Gigantic Relay Stations
If the success of your operation is dependent upon lots and lots of drones, controlled remotely, you’d better take care of those relay stations. Now, you might be thinking “Hey, at least they hid it underground” but you’d be wrong – one of the relay stations in LA was underground. In news footage throughout, we see the relay stations floating everywhere. Like, in every major city they invade, just sitting there out in the open. The news anchors even report how those giant ships are seen in multiple places. Lacking shields and apparently lacking the ability to send their relay signals more than a few dozen miles (since every city needs one relay in the atmosphere, not floating up in space, safe) these easy targets spell the end of their invasion.
The Weakness: No Anti-Virus Program, Simplistic Computer Security
Another alien race that almost whipped the shit out of us – these guys came down and meant business, willy nilly blowing the shit out of everything. They would have kept blowing things up too, if only they could keep their shields up. They had a pretty good system too – one gigantic mothership sitting in orbit, the master of all, far from any prying human hands. Maybe that’s why the aliens, all safe and compliant, didn’t mind one single, short range fighter leaving Earth, abandoning its mothership and showing up early for dinner.
Let’s not forget that this particular fighter was 60 years old, probably an old variant or at least one that had been reported lost. Ignoring all that, once the humans were hardwired to the mothership, all it took was one nerd a few minutes to upload a virus that was apparently undetectable, undeletable, and written in an alien language and encoded to shut down the shields. How they knew how to write in alien or what system to target to take down the shields, we don’t know. But the likelihood of this is about on par with an American Indian from the year 1427 stumbling about a Russian KGB super computer and getting it to detonate all the Soviet Nuclear Missiles. Because the ID4 aliens apparently have the coding skills of children with crayons.
The Weakness: The Planet Earth
No seriously. You knew this was going to be on the list and “water” is one big fucking weakness. But it goes beyond water. The entire planet Earth is poisonous to these aliens who thought they could show up and then walk around with no protection what-so-ever. If the water didn’t get them, Herpes or Influenza probably would have, but no, these aliens are fucking morons. First up, 70% of the Earth’s surface is SUPER POISON ACID to them. Flesh melting acid. Everywhere. Oceans. Lakes. Rivers. Streams. Flowing into every home in America via little faucets. On sale in little plastic bottles. Composing most of our bodies.
Also, let’s not forget, falling from the sky. Rain. Snow. Sleet. You know what humidity is? The amount of moisture in the air – aka the amount of fucking flesh eating poison in the air. To put this in perspective, these aliens saw a planet that was 70% flesh melting acid, with flesh melting acid falling from the sky, inhabited by a race of beings that DRINK FLESH MELTING ACID EVERY DAY, and said “Yeah, we’d like to live there.”
The moral of the story? Aliens, for all their advanced technology, are idiots who can’t hold their own in a fight, or even avoid a planet that is entirely composed of poison.
So come on, filmmakers, let’s get on this. Let’s craft an alien invasion force that isn’t operating on a third grade level tactically. You can craft a weakness without having it be a giant, glaring, Death Star vent-sized one. Because everyone awesome alien invasion that ends with a head-scratchingly stupid weakness pushes me past my boiling point.
Drink some water and read more Boiling Point
Interview: Seth Gordon Takes the Meanness Out of ‘Horrible Bosses’
Posted: 11 Jul 2011 07:40 AM PDT
Years ago director Seth Gordon made a big impression with his critical doc darling, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. The film made our own best 30 films of the decade and you’d be on a fool’s mission to find someone who doesn’t enjoy that unique story. To no surprise, the heavily pirated documentary kicked down a lot of doors for Gordon. Just recently he’s been attached to direct the WarGames remake, so it’s obvious he’s come quite a long way in a quick amount of time.
His latest comedy, Horrible Bosses, also represents how rapid the filmmaker is rising. The greatest surprise of the film is that, tonally, the film isn’t all that mean. The story’s about three guys plotting to murder their respective bosses, but even with that dark concept and some bastardly antagonists it never goes to the extreme. Gordon flirts with some darkness and satire, but it stays relatively safe.
Here’s what director Seth Gordon had to say about the doors The King of Kong opened up for him, going with a lighter version of Horrible Bosses, and the nature of comedic filmmaking:
To start off, I’d say the tone sits in the middle between being very mean-spirited or being very light. Was that a conscious decision?
Yeah. I think the energy of the three guys was really fantastic. It was really fun, but the struggle for me editorially was how to balance all of that. I wanted the beginning of the film to feel very real, so everyone in the audience can remember those authority figures they’ve dealt with — a boss, a coach, a teacher, or someone that gave you a hard time — so that you connect with these three guys before going on this journey. I appreciate that you saw that tone was so important to the movie, because it really was.
So it was a constant balance in editing?
It was really a discovery in editing. During production I would always try to protect myself in most scenes, so that I could go a little sillier or a bit darker if I needed to.
I’ve heard there was another cut that was darker. What changed?
In the older version we spent more time in the first act, but then I realized that I didn’t really need much of it. It’s very easy and very fast for people to get back in touch with that feeling, so a little goes a long way. I just needed a lot less set-up than I thought.
Was that a tricky process, trying to set-up who these guys are, while also quickly getting to the big concept?
Yep. It was something we worked pretty hard on collapsing how long it takes for Charlie to say, “Let’s kill this bitch,” and that scene used to be at 35-minutes in, but now it’s at 22-minutes.
What else got cut?
Just additional scenes of suffering with bosses [Laughs]. There used to be three scenes with all of them, but now there’s two.
What were those other scenes of suffering?
You’ll see this on the DVD, but there’s a scene where Bobby says to Jason Sudeikis, “You can fire one of your employees, or I can fire all three of you,” and there’s a scene where he actually fired one of them. It was painful for Sudeikis’ character to do that, so it made you hate Bobby even more. Ultimately, we already made the point. We didn’t need to make the point twice. To me, it was just about efficient storytelling. I just needed enough evidence for you to hate Bobby, so you can root for Sudeikis to get rid of him. It’s also to lay the groundwork for what happens to Bobby, which is quite unexpected. That’s really what’s driving that.
I like how Bobby’s apartment made you hate him even more.
The production designer, Shepherd Frankel, did a great job making Bobby’s apartment. It was really good. There was no accidents in the way we built these sets or found all the layers that support the story. I will say, though, that the actors are fantastic, and that’s a big part of why it works.
How did the test-screenings go?
Test-screenings are a real awesome opportunity to see how something plays. Whether you like test-screenings or not, it totally depends on the filmmaker. If you’re afraid of how an audience is going to feel, then isn’t that a sign? [Laughs]
[Laughs] Don’t you worry that you may be getting the worst audience for your film?
I actually think the wisdom of a crowd is very high. Very little is missed when you get enough people together, because someone is going to get each of the smaller things, and that alerts the others to pay attention to stuff. I think intelligence tends to go up when a crowd is watching a comedy. Someone always catches the nuances. Even if someone doesn’t catch the nuances, I’m not too worried about that.
[Laughs] Like the Jodie Foster joke?
[Laughs] That’s okay. Even if someone doesn’t understand the reference, someone in the crowd is likely to react to it. Actually, that’s a perfect example of the comedy having some layers that some will get and some won’t get, and I think that’s ideal.
When making The King of Kong, did you have that outlook of trying to appeal to more than a small crowd?
Yeah. Kong was a different scenario because we were making it in my apartment, so we didn’t have access to things like test-screenings. We just showed it to a few of our friends. I definitely wasn’t concerned about appealing to anyone, necessarily. I just wanted the story to make sense.
After The King of Kong came out, what type of offers were you getting?
That movie really opened a lot of doors for me because it was a three act structure that I discovered in real life, and that’s the exact kind of skill set for making an engaging three act film they look for in Hollywood. I owe pretty much everything to that movie. I was mostly getting offered comedies. Comedies are usually the easiest point of entry for directors, because they’re relatively inexpensive compared to other movies. If a comedy works, it can work huge.
The great thing about The King of Kong is that it had a real heart. Are you hoping to infuse that same type of humanity into the comedies you make?
That’s my goal. I was lucky enough to be a part of a very special movie as my first. I aspire to make something that’s on that level in the narrative feature world, but I think it was a rare opportunity that I had there.
Did you have a certain level of skepticism about what to do next?
Not an unnatural skepticism. In a way, I think I felt relaxed in the sense of how I was lucky to make that movie, that I don’t have to try to do it again, or have to live up to it [Laughs]. You don’t have to do that every time.
How was that leap of going from a small doc to a sizable-budgeted comedy [Four Christmases]?
It was a very small movie to one of the truly expensive, big Hollywood features. It was a totally different kind of movie and a totally different paradigm of moviemaking.
Like you said, you made The King of Kong in your room without an audience to worry about or people to answer to. What was that transition like for you going from that experience to having to deal with a lot of notes?
Obviously, it’s preferable not having to answer to a lot of voices and just be able to make the film you had in mind. If you’re going to make movies on a big-budget, then you’re going to have to answer to people to help get that budget in place. It’s not bad or good, it just is. It’s the nature of making that choice.
You don’t sound bitter about it.
Not at all. If I were bitter about that, then that would be childish [Laughs]. That’s just the nature of making a movie that way. If I want no one to talk to, then I can stay home, make a movie on my own, and just show it to my friends, and that’s always an option.
Horrible Bosses is now in theaters.
Posted on 01/23/2012 6:56 AM
From Oscilloscope Laboratories comes a brand new poster for the upcoming indie film Bellflower.
Best friends Woodrow (Writer/Director Evan Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) spend all of their free time building MAD MAX-inspired flamethrowers and cars in preparation for a global apocalypse. But when Woodrow meets a charismatic young woman and falls hard in love, he and Aiden quickly integrate into a new group of friends, setting off on a journey of love and hate, betrayal, infidelity, and extreme violence more devastating and fiery than any of their apocalyptic fantasies.
Bellflower premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, drawing particular accolades for its visceral imagery and daring storyline. A much celebrated debut, Glodell wrote, stars in, and directed the film. He also incorporated his engineering background and unique talents into the production – fashioning custom optics for the camera, hand-crafting a fully-functional flame-thrower and transforming Medusa from the guts of a 1972 Buick Skylark to the fire-breathing road warrior featured in the film.
The film opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, August 5th, 2011. National rollout to follow. [source: HitFix]
Posted on 01/23/2012 6:54 AM
The 36 Things We Learned From John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ Commentary Track
Posted: 13 Jul 2011 07:55 AM PDT
We all have DVDs and Blu-Rays we haven’t dug into quite like we thought we would when we slapped down our hard-earned cash to take them home with us. I’m right there with you. Chief among the special features I have ignorantly looked over are the commentary tracks. There is vast film knowledge just resting in those tiny discs. The libraries of information just resting on our DVD shelves are immense and full of interesting stories and facts. It’s time we start cracking through them.
Enter Commentary Commentary, a new weekly column where I will listen to the commentary track of one of the films sitting on my shelf, waiting over there like Jason Voorhees waits behind a random tree. But I can’t just give you the title of a movie I watched that particular week and go have a latte. That would be easier, but it wouldn’t serve you, the reader. So I’ll make a list of things I learned from that commentary and give an overall opinion on how well the commentary served that particular movie.
Our maiden voyage begins with:
John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)
Commentators: John Carpenter (director), Kurt Russellf (cast: “MacReady”), the sounds of Carpenter’s lighter flicking
- John Carpenter considers The Thing his first of what he calls his Apocalypse Trilogy. The other two films in that trilogy are Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness.
- When Kurt Russell arrived at Universal studios there was a sign welcoming Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds who were filming The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. No word on whether Wilford Brimley ever sang “I Will Always Love You”.
- The Thing was released 2 weeks after E.T. Carpenter feels this was a big aspect to The Thing not doing well at the box office.
- The man leaning out of the helicopter in the opening scene of The Thing is Larry J. Franco, who also served as associate producer on the film, first assistant director, and is Kurt Russell’s brother-in-law.
- The opening sequence is one of the experiences that made Carpenter want to learn to fly a helicopter. Also the opening is all 2nd unit not shot by Carpenter himself.
- “The only problem with this location was we couldn’t get any beer.” – John Carpenter about the opening sequence in Alaska. Priorities, man. Priorities.
- There is a made-up backstory between Carpenter and Russell about MacReady being a former helicopter pilot in the Viet Nam war and that he’s probably an alcoholic. Carpenter also states he feels MacReady never wanted to be a leader. He just wants to survive and is thrust upon being a leader in the situation the group finds itself in.
- “It’s impossible for Will to do anything phony. He’s really who he is.” – Carpenter on Wilford Brimley.
- The pilot they used for shooting in Alaska offered to crash his helicopter for money.
- Carpenter was incredibly impressed with the work done by the dog who is taken over by the Thing. The real dog’s name was Jed, and the shot of him walking down the hallway and searching for a human was done in only about 4 or 5 takes.
- The destroyed Norwegian camp was the same set as the American outpost in which most of the film takes place after it had been blown up and revamped.
- “‘It’s gonna be fine, John. Once we put the gel on it’s gonna come to life.’” – Russell quoting special effects and creature designer Rob Bottin from the set.
- Russell hints that he may have taken a smoke off a cigarette at the beginning of certain shots in order to make the breath appear more visible.
- It was not only an all-male cast, it was also a nearly all-male crew. One female crew member, Candy Artmont, the script supervisor, was pregnant at the time of shooting and had to leave midway through filming. So, basically, the Thing crashes a sausage party, the warmest place to hide, evidently.
- It took Kurt Russell around a year to grow the famous beard and hair MacReady sports.
- Wilford Brimley, being a real cowboy, didn’t have any issues handling some of the disgusting props used in the dissection sequences. When Carpenter asked him what he thought of in the more intense scenes, Brimley would reply, “I’m picking up my laundry.”.
- Part of the fear instilled into The Thing came from the AIDs epidemic that was making itself known at the time of filming. The idea that you couldn’t tell who was infected just by looking at them, only blood tests would reveal it, was not lost on Carpenter.
- The goop shot at the dog in the kennel scene was Carbopol, the same substance found inside Twinkies. Also having the alien bleed yellow was a conscious effort to make it less human. And I’m back on Ho Hos. For life.
- One day after shooting a scene with the flamethrower, Russell pulled a practical joke on Carpenter by covering his face and head with bandages and claiming he had gotten burned.
- Russell is always fascinated with directors who are able to make a group of people standing around a table and talking interesting to the audience. Cut to years later with Russell working with Tarantino for Death Proof.
- The shot of MacReady walking to the small hole in the ice where the alien was buried was filmed on the Universal backlot. The snow, helicopter, and alien ship in the background, basically all of the surroundings, were painted.
- The computer sequence showing how the alien takes over its prey was designed by John Wash, a friend of Carpenter’s from USC, who also designed the opening computer graphics in Escape from New York. During an early test screening, someone made a note that those type of graphics and the program didn’t exist at the time. Likewise, Carpenter and Russell remember playing a lot of Pong on set.
- There were many discussions on set about whether someone would know if they were the Thing or not. An agreement was made that if the Thing is a perfect imitation, whoever was taken over would still believe they were human, not an alien.
- Carpenter has been told my many who have seen The Thing that shots of people getting stuck with needles bother them more than anything else in the film. Camera operator Raymond Stella stood in for all the needle shots. Carpenter says Stella told him he could do that all day. Russell questions if Stella is in rehab today. Poor, Raymond Stella.
- MacReady’s line, “Trust is a tough thing to come by these days.” is one of Carpenter’s favorite lines of the film. He feels is summarizes everything The Thing has to say.
- For a long time during filming, Carpenter struggled with a way of making MacReady the Thing. He finally chose to leave the film ambiguous and just tease it. Also a bigger ending with Childs and MacReady turning on each other was considered, but the logistics could never be worked out. Ambiguity won out again probably to the benefit of the overall film.
- Blair’s hangman’s rope was an element originally found in Bill Lancaster’s screenplay.
- There is constant conversation about how hot the flares were and how much Carpenter and Russell burned themselves with them. In the scene where MacReady threatens the camp with dynamite and a flare, he rushed through his dialogue in order to get it all in before the 90-second flare ran out.
- David Clennon’s line, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding.” is Russell’s favorite and never fails to make him crack up. This is indicated by the uproarious laughter than comes from Russell at that key moment watching the film on commentary.
- It was in one of the reviews for The Thing that one critic deemed Carpenter a “pornographer of violence.” “That really had me thinking about my career,” says Carpenter. Yeah, that. Not Ghosts of Mars. Being called a “pornographer”.
- MacReady throwing the dynamite at Palmer as the Thing created a much bigger blast than Russell expected. If you watch closely, you’ll notice Russel off to the side reacting genuinely to the explosion.
- When they begin blowing up the camp near the end, the crew wasn’t 100% sure if the explosions they were setting up would bring the camp down as it needed. If it didn’t work correctly, Carpenter states, they would have had to us a special effects explosions to cover. It did.
- Carpenter always likened the end of The Thing to a World War II film where a crew is set on a suicide mission they have to fulfill even though they know they won’t survive it.
- 50 people operated the Blair monster at the end.
- Kurt Russell came up with the final moment with MacReady and Childs during filming. Likewise, Russell came up with the final line of dilaogue, and what a phenomenal line it is. On that note, it should be mentioned the only screenplay Russell has ever received credit for was Escape from L.A. Although the screenplay for that was drastically different than the finished product, we have to say you can’t win ‘em all, Kurt.
- Carpenter still doesn’t know whether one, both, or neither of the men at the end are the Thing.
Best in Commentary
“The paranoia is the glue that holds the movie together.” – John Carpenter
“It just ate his head.” – Kurt Russell
The camaraderie on the set of The Thing really comes through in the way John Carpenter and Kurt Russell talk about their experiences. It doesn’t sound like it was an easy shoot in any way, shape, or form, but the honor of being a part of it is something every member of the cast and crew seems to wear like a badge. That comes through in this commentary, as well. Carpenter and Russell are good friends. You can tell that just in the way they interact. The way they speak on their experience with The Thing gives us an incredible amount of insight into what went into making the film a reality. This insight touches on both technical aspects involved in creating the film as well as personal anecdotes that shed some interesting light on the personal experiences. Most importantly, there’s very little dead air in their commentary
Posted on 01/23/2012 3:19 AM
31 Things We Learned From the ‘Die Hard’ Commentary Track
And welcome back to Commentary Commentary, our weekly scouring of the DVD shelves and all the vast film knowledge held therein. It’s time once again to listen to a feature length film commentary from one of our most beloved films and go over all the great pieces of information we learn from it.
This week, we’ve got another classic, a film that sparked a whole sub-genre of other films. And, before you pitch the idea of “Die Hard on a Film Blog,” know that Joel Silver probably has three screenplays in his office with that exact same pitch. That’s right. This week, we’re cracking open our copy of Die Hard and going through the commentary. So sit back, enjoy how not Christmas-y it is right now, and drink some eggnog anyway. Hey, it couldn’t hurt.
Die Hard (1988)
Commentators: John McTiernan (director), Jackson De Govia (production designer), the bombastic sounds of “Ode to Joy”
- McTiernan’s first concern with Die Hard was with having the villains be terrorists. He felt terrorists were too mean and didn’t agree to do the film until it could be figured out how to put “some joy in it.” McTiernan wanted to find a way to make the film more suitable for “Summer entertainment.” This was also the case in the decision made not to get involved in the terrorists’ politics but make them thieves only looking for monetary gain.
- Nakotomi Plaza is actually Fox Plaza in Century City. As production designer, it was De Govia’s idea to use the Fox building as what is often regarded as the main character of the movie. The building was under construction during filming, and the set of the unfinished floor McClane walks through used actual construction equipment. “The Fox Plaza will forever be the Die Hard building.” – Jackson De Govia.
- The opening scene is actually filmed on an airplane that is being towed around in circles.
- The 34th floor of the Nakatomi building, the floor where the party is being held, particularly the giant rock with water dripping from it, is a recreation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. De Govia’s backstory on this is that, at the time, Japanese corporations were buying up America and that the Nakatomi Corporationhad bought Fallingwater and reassembled it in their own building.
- A painted backing wrapped around the 34th floor set to create outside L.A. It was 380 feet long and featured animated lights and various lighting techniques to create day and night effects. It’s still in Fox’s inventory and is periodically used for other films.
- The Nakotomi logo was designed by De Govia, and the first concept was a little too Swastika-like for McTiernan. The eventual design used in the film is reminiscent of a Samurai warrior’s helmet.
- At the beginning of filming, Die Hard‘s ending had not been decided upon. In fact, when the terrorists come out of the back of the truck, you can see it is impossible for an ambulance to fit inside. That’s because the concept of the ambulance hadn’t been thought up yet. This fact haunts De Govia to this day.
- “It was important to set up this character, because he is the one victim of this story really.” – McTiernan about Takagi, played by James Shigeta. Right, no love for Ellis. The guy just wanted coke.
- Pacific Courier, the name and logo on the side of the truck carrying the terrorists, means “messenger of peace.” DeGovia used the same name and graphic for Speed and Die Hard With a Vengeance, the truck that blows up at the beginning of the film.
- In the script, John McClane is a tough-as-nails New York cop, but McTiernan and Bruce Willis didn’t really have the character sorted out until about halfway through shooting. It was then they figured out this was a guy who didn’t like himself very much, but who’s doing the best he could. The little moment of McClane banging his head against the door frame after fighting with Holly was a reshoot done after the character was figured out.
- McTiernan had an idea of using bits of a specific classical piece of music throughout Michael Kamen’s score. He felt this piece of classical music would help bring out the sense of joy he wanted for Die Hard. It wasn’t until later that McTiernan learned the name of that piece of music was “Ode to Joy.”
- McTiernan brought Jan De Bont in as cinematographer because of his work with Paul Verhoeven. McTiernan wanted to give Die Hard a European sense of camera movement and structuring. This is indicated by the many shots in the film that seem to move around a focal character, a “movement on emotion” rather than “movement on physical movement of the character.” McTiernan also liked to cut between two shots in two separate locations that shared a similar camera movement to create flow over the entire story.
- “I love sets you can destroy.” – Jackson De Govia. De Govia also strives to put realism into the sets of action films he works on. He needed to know how everything would happen, particularly with the elevators, if they had to happen in the real world.
- There’s backstory regarding Takagi serving in the Japanese Navy in World War II. He served on a ship called the Akagi, hence the password to the vault, which translated means Red Castle. This was De Govia’s idea.
- Bruce Willis actually rode on top of a real elevator for certain shots.
- McTiernan had tried to previously shoot Predator in anamorphic but was turned down by the studio due to costs. He sees shooting in anamorphic as the cheapest special effect possible, because it gives any film a much more expensive look.
- The scene of McClane falling in the ventilation shaft and catching himself was a happy accident from an incident on set. A stuntman actually fell attempting to shoot the scene, and it was editor Frank Urioste‘s decision to incorporate the fall into the final film. The shot of McClane falling is the actual accident on set.
- McTiernan brings up a film making technique from old Hollywood known as zero point cinema, a style that doesn’t take into account the author’s expression. McTiernan says the technique has many rules similar to the Dogme movement in Denmark and a cinematographer and editor have to understand what the director is doing or else the collaboration won’t work. He explains how he was forced to fire an editor from 1990′s The Hunt for Red October, because the traditional editor could not conform to McTiernan’s nontraditional style.
- There’s a stylistic reference to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari during scenes in the computer room. McTiernan utilizes a number of dutch angles during these scenes. Also, De Govia had this location set up and ready to be shot on before they even knew what they were going to use it for.
- In the original script, the events in Die Hard took place over three days. Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” was one of the works that convinced McTiernan to make it take place on during one night.
- According to McTiernan, just the armored trucked knocking over the railing in front of Fox Tower took months of negotiations with Fox.
- “I don’t like arc. Arc is modern.” – Jackson De Govia regarding story structure. Hey, the guy is a production designer, not a screenwriter.
- McTiernan had Grand L. Bush as FBI Agent Johnson (a black man) say the line, “No relation.” because he felt if Robert Davi as FBI Agent Johnson (a white man) said it, it would come off as racist. Yeah, he’s probably right.
- McTiernan was never fully satisfied with Alan Rickman’s American accent in the scenes where Hans Gruber is pretending to be a party guest. The director can still hear the actor’s British accent coming through.
- “Bruce is most endearing when he’s being a smart-ass. That’s the essence of his stardom is somebody’s pointing a gun right between his eyes and he goes, ‘Oops.’ That irreverence is what we seem to love about him.” – John McTiernan. McTiernan also speculates it may have been Willis’s divorce that brought out the great actor we get in The Sixth Sense. What do you think? Is Willis happy or sad to hear this?
- The helicopter flying around the building near the end of the film took six months of preparation and they only had two hours to film it. It took three runs and nine camera crews. Everyone within 500 feet of the line of flight had to be an employee.
- The scene on the roof of the building was actually filmed on the roof of the Fox Tower. With all the actors included and helicopters flying overhead and in the wake of the horrible incident on The Twilight Zone, which McTiernan actually references, the director became scared that something tragic would happen. He called off the final two helicopter runs that night.
- Jackson De Govia’s favorite moment in the film is near the end when the elevator explodes for no discernible reason. I have to say, I’m inclined to agree with him.
- Bruce improvised the “Hi, honey” at the end of the film.
- Alan Rickman actually dropped nearly 70 feet on a green screen set for Gruber’s big drop at the end of the film. The shot used was the first take, and the look of fear on Rickman’s face is genuine.
- The score Kamen wrote for when Powell kills Karl didn’t fit right, and McTiernan decided to run with a piece of temp score that had been purchased. The score was actually an unused piece from James Horner that had been written for Aliens.
Best in Commentary
“It’s okay to think this is ridiculous, because the storytellers thinks it’s ridiculous.” – John McTiernan
“Die Hard is successful because everyone in it is really cool, and real things happen to them.” – Jackson De Govia
“Die Hard is not unique in that it doesn’t date. Fred Astaire doesn’t date. John Ford doesn’t date. In time, this is going to look like a wonderful period movie like those films we loved that we all grew up watching on TV.” – Jackson De Govia.
All in all, the Die Hard commentary gives a lot of insight into John McTiernan as a director and Jackson De Govia as a production designer. There are a lot of instances where each commentator goes back to a well one too many times. Mctiernan’s keeps bringing up the idea of including joy in the film, and De Govia’s insistence on making everything appear real are somewhat tedious. In fact, one instance of De Govia going on and on about comparing the opening of the vault and the FBI’s involvement in that to breaking through to the heart of the audience scratched the needles across the record a bit. It’s such a meandering train of thought that goes on and on, it isn’t hard to zone out.
Likewise, it is obvious from the word “Go” that the two commentators are not in same room. This brings up a odd juxtaposition between what is being said by one or the other and what is actually going on in the film at that time. Also, this allows for certain stretches of dead air that leaves you wondering whether or not you accidentally turned the feature off. Nonetheless, there is a lot of talk about style and technique throughout theDie Hard commentary, much more so than on-set stories that don’t give much comprehension on the film making process. McTiernan’s grasp of filmmaking knowledge and camera movement and composition is incredible, which makes you really wonder where the Roller Ball remake came from.
Posted on 01/23/2012 3:15 AM
15 Things We Learned From the ‘Captain America’ Junket
If you’ve followed our coverage of Marvel Junkets in the past (Iron Man 2, Thor) then you know that those press events and I have a long and useless history. Generally speaking, everyone spends a lot of time learning very little, and sometimes things break and fall down.
It seems as though Marvel may be on the upswing in terms of getting these junkets really pumping out information – or maybe we journalists are asking better questions – who the heck really knows why it happened, but somehow the Captain America junket was interesting and had stuff to learn you might actually care about.
So much so, in fact, that I’ve got 15 cool tidbits right here.
15. Joe Johnston Strangely Gets No Love, Deserves it.
There was some concern from the internet when Johnston was announced as the director, despite him helming some awesome films like The Rocketeer and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Seems even after the excellent Captain America, not all critics are willing to accept him – while the Marvel executives walked in to applause, the clapping oddly stopped when Johnston was announced. Until Kevin Feige started it back up. Me? I love the guy.
14. Marvel’s Secret to Success is…
Hiring great writers and directors, according to Kevin Feige. While that seems like, and most likely is, a canned answer, Marvel is making a lot of great movies, so they’re obviously on to something.
13. Joe Johnston is Definitely not a Nazi Sympathizer
His quote, word for word: “Nazis are the universal villain. You can kill Nazis with impunity.”
12. Chris Evans Bested a Dozen other Captains
According to Johnston, somewhere between 12 and 15 different actors screen-tested for the role, with Evans bringing the best balance of acting and physicality.
11. Captain America Goes Solo
When questioned about the Captain’s ability to hold his own movie, Feige said that the Marvel plan for films was to follow that of the comics: introduce them in their own ventures first, before crafting a super team. The Marvel Head Honcho also reaffirmed his opinion, which will be proved this weekend, that Captain America can easily hold his own film.
10. He’s Not Captain Propaganda
Some like to pick on Captain America – after all, he wears the flag, got his great body from steroids, and seems like a superficial propaganda tool. Not so, says Johnston. Captain America is just a guy who wants to do the right thing. He is given these tools because of who he is. And, after all, in the comics we do meet Captain Britain, so other countries get flag waiving superheroes too.
9. Tommy Lee Jones is Scary
Unless you laugh at him. With a widely known sour disposition, dealing with Tommy Lee Jones can be difficult. Director Joe Johnston found the best approach was just to laugh at the performance to reinforce it, because most people are too afraid of Jones to laugh even when he’s joking.
8. The Time Period Is Essential, Open
It was hard for writers Markus and McFeely to write a script that took place in World War II, won the war, and ended in the present day, but still leave the door open for more sequels. But they did it! See the movie to find out how!
7. Shot in 2D but for 3D. No, really.
Johnston shot the film in 2D always knowing that, after some tests, it was destined for 3D. To get the best results, most everything was shot a second time to provide the “left eye pass” needed to give the depth to the image. It works.
6. The Answer is Nothing.
The question, posed by Joe Johnston: What’s hotter than a woman that knows how to use a machine gun?
5. Want to Read the Comic Inspirations?
Then search out the early runs from Ed Brubaker. While a little bit was taken from many different storylines, his critically acclaimed run was the biggest starting point for the writers.
4. Captain America is Similar to the Greatest Films of All Time
According to Kevin Feige, if you look at a list of the greatest films of all time, you’ll find dozens of period pieces – so there was never any hesitation or doubt about putting Steve Rogers where he belongs: World War II.
3. Sebastian Stan Didn’t Know about Bucky
Which is a good thing, considering what he learned covered all of Bucky’s history which, recently, turns him into a wet-work badass specialist rather than a young boy in a Lone Ranger costume.
2. Anything is Possible for a Sequel
The writers made sure to keep the movie open and spaced out enough to leave room for a sequel that could take place either in World War II or modern day. In fact, the movie actually takes place over a period of 2-3 years, with a lot of the middle years shown only in a montage. Supporting actors Sebastian Stan and Hayley Atwell both confirmed they could show up in a sequel, but that nothing was planned yet.
1. The Red Dress Moment Almost Never Was
Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter is a bad ass chick wearing a uniform during most of her screen time – and it would have been all of it, if not for a costume designer who decided that she needed a moment to be a stunning woman. Enter the red dress, when a non-uniformed Carter enters a bar full of soldiers, dropping jaws everywhere.
Well, there you go – a Marvel Junket that wasn’t a total waste of time. Don’t get me wrong, or kicked out of future junkets, it’s just that in the past they yielded no information and nothing but frustration, though I do blame most of that on shitty questions from our side of the table. But not this one! How about that. Well, I hope you enjoyed learning about Captain America: The First Avenger as much as I enjoyed the complimentary Captain America action figure, valued at $7.99.
Posted on 01/23/2012 3:10 AM
What the Hell? 7 Depictions of the Underworld in Film
Hell is one of those things that’s up for individual interpretation. Some people believe it’s a real place full of fire and brimstone, or it’s all made up, or it’s a state of mind. Some people think it’s a Shia LaBeouf marathon from which you can never turn away.
So, with Hell as a setting, Hollywood basically has a blank slate. They can go the Old Testament route, or they can get more existential with it, or something in-between. (Even Hollywood can’t do the Shia LaBeouf marathon option. No studio would fund that.) As such, here are seven films and their take on the place bad folks go when they die.
(Obviously, this contains spoilers for the films listed.)
Drag Me To Hell
Sam Raimi’s return to the horror genre after messing around with the Spider-Man films (like that was ever going anywhere! Come on, buddy) features Alison Lohman showing that she could carry a starring role and Justin Long proving that he’s still obnoxious even when he’s trying to be serious.
After spending three days fooling around with the ghost of an old lady, Lohman’s character, Christine, thinks she’s finally free of the curse placed upon her. Unfortunately, after meeting her boyfriend (Long) at the train station, she discovers that she’s accidentally messed up the whole “getting uncursed” thing and gets to burn in Hell anyway despite her best intentions. Whoopsy!
So, for the briefest of moments, we get a glimpse of the titular afterlife. It appears to primarily be the old standby of lava and fire and yada yada, except there are weird, disembodied hands grabbing on to Christine and her face slowly turns corpse-like. Creeeepy. It’s probably better than sticking around with Justin Long, though.
The Frighteners was Michael J. Fox’s last starring role, but it was also Peter Jackson’s first big-budget special effects film. It’s like trading one movie icon for another. (What do you think we can get for Rob Schneider?) It was also the first time Weta Digital really got to flex their muscles, and flex them they did (at least as far as 1996 CGI was concerned).
At the very end of the film, as Fox’s character tries to drag Jake Busey’s deranged yokel serial killer (there’s gotta be some kind of weird genetics at work in the Busey family) and his girlfriend into heaven, we get a nice look at Weta’s idea of Hell. What at first looks like some kind of Silent Hill-esque tunnel made up of wavering flesh turns into a free-for-all buffet for snakes, which is itself inside of another, larger snake that plunges into a traditional pool of lava. Peter Jackson apparently has a serious Indiana Jones complex.
Before Paul W. S. Anderson decided to firmly commit himself to making terrible movies, he did manage to crap out one damned decent film. That movie was the cult horror/sci-fi flick, Event Horizon. It’s like a Reese’s peanut butter cup of blood and spaceships.
Throughout the film, it’s made pretty clear that the “other dimension” that the Event Horizon accidentally slipped into before the events of the movie is none other than Hell itself. Finally, at the film’s climax, Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) is shown a view of this “other dimension” in a series of flash cuts that make it look incredibly unpleasant: Spikes, barbed wire, blood, dismembered corpses, and probably an overwhelming smell of poop coming from Captain Miller’s shorts.
In-between directing films about infidelity, infidelity, and infidelity, Adrian Lyne decided to direct a horror film called Jacob’s Ladder (which contains a subplot about infidelity– Dude needs some new material). And to be fair, the movie doesn’t technically feature Hell, at least not in the literal sense. Jacob (Tim Robbins) is in his own, personal Hell, made up of the doubts and regrets he went through in life as he lays dying on the battlefield in Vietnam. It’s kind of a purgatory thing, and Jacob’s friend/chiropractor, Louis (Danny Aiello) sums it up thusly: “The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won’t let go of life, your memories, your attachments.” Oh, but to have a chiropractor who is also an expert in metaphysics. We could be like back-cracking Ghostbusters.
The most explicitly Hellish moments come in the hospital scene that occurs halfway through the movie. Jacob is wheeled on a gurney through a decayed hospital with air raid sirens blasting in the distance. Soon the whole thing gives way to rusted, industrial grates, deformed people, randomly strewn gore, and bloody tiles. This one scene actually inspired the entire Silent Hill series of video games and movie(s). And by inspired, I mean they basically jacked the whole thing and ran with it. But hey, Pyramid Head? That was all them.
What Dreams May Come
This film came from a point in Robin Williams’s life where he apparently decided to bulk up his “serious films” resume (or maybe he was just trying to avoid the inevitable Patch Adams 2: Patch Harder, who knows). Despite being fairly cheesy and so incredibly sappy that your hand might stick to your face while you’re watching it, the movie does have some good moments. (Also it has Cuba Gooding, Jr. as an angelic kinda character. Fair warning.)
The main plot of the movie involves Robin Williams’s character leaving Heaven and descending into Hell in hopes of rescuing his wife, who committed suicide after he died in a car accident. Hell itself seems to have phases. It begins with the River Styx and, oddly, tons of books, then transitions into a big stormy sea filled with screaming, grabby people, followed by the traditional “things and people burning and shit.” After that, though, is when things get crazy. After crossing a field made up of people’s faces, Williams falls into a strange, upside-down church which contains an eerie, abandoned imitation of the house he and his wife shared in life, which she now mopes around, forgetting everything about him and her life. That’s a pretty big Hell. It’s basically the Dante’s Inferno approach– Keep coming up with new, terrifying ideas until you’ve got every single one jammed in there.
Despite having the word Hell right there in the title, the first Hellraiser didn’t really deliver the goods. You have to turn to the second entry in the series to get a solid look at the joint. Oh, Clive Barker. You strange, strange fellow.
There’s little of a traditional idea of Hell here. In fact, the whole thing manages to come off as a quintessentially 80s version of the Underworld. It’s mostly a gigantic structure that looks like some sort of labyrinthine archaeological find, and then there’s an elongated octahedron with black cones of light shining out of it floating in a featureless, gray sky. Also, that octahedron is referred to as “the God of this place– Leviathan.” So that’s pretty cheery. It’s kind of a minimalist take on Hell, but at least it’s something different.
Back in 2005, Warner Bros. adapted the Vertigo Comics series Hellblazer into a feature film, except they forgot things like how the character was supposed to look, where he was from, and how his name was pronounced. You know, the stuff no one would ever complain about on the internet.
This film actually comes closest to the Shia LaBeouf marathon Hell concept I mentioned earlier, as it actually has LaBeouf in a supporting role, but the filmmakers apparently felt that too cruel to the audience and opted for a desolate cityscape kinda thing. Keanu Reeves roams around Hell and finds empty, destroyed cars, harsh winds, and big red skies. The weird thing here is, despite how awesome it looks, this Hell doesn’t seem to be very tortuous. Sure, there are demons and stuff, and I wouldn’t want to live there or anything, but it looks more unpleasant than, say, Hellish. The whole thing just looks… itchy. I don’t know.
Visit your own personal Hell by reading more lists
Posted on 01/23/2012 12:00 AM
28 Things We Learned From the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ Commentary Track
Yeah, I know that’s a lame way to start. Especially when you consider this week’s Commentary Commentary, our third, goes from essential classics like The Thing and Die Hard to Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. We’re not scraping the bottom of the barrel just yet, and even though Curse of the Black Pearl is by no means a bad movie, it just hasn’t reached a level of beloved nostalgia like our first two.
Okay. Enough preamble. This DVD offers three separate commentaries featuring various members of the cast and crew, but rather than hear the insight Jack Davenport had to offer – we love you, Jack – it’s probably best to hear from the film’s director and star. So here, without any further waggery or warm-up, is what was learned from their commentary.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Commentators: Gore Verbinski (director), Johnny Depp (Captain Jack Sparrow), utterance of the word “fantastic”
- The first shot of the movie, the shot of the ship coming out of the fog, is really five shots cut together to appear seamless. It was all shot early in the the shooting schedule, but it wasn’t finished until two days before the film’s release date.
- Keira Knightley was 17 when filming Curse of the Black Pearl. Her mother traveled with her to all of the shooting locations.
- Early in the film, Orlando Bloom kept trying to play his character cooler than he actually is. He wanted to play the character more like Depp’s Jack Sparrow, but Verbinski had to keep reiterating to him how uncool Will Turner is. “You’re still a dork,” Verbinski would say to him.
- Screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio were on set every day of filming, a rarity for film shoots, especially those this size and a first for these particular screenwriters. This allowed for the cast to constantly throw out ideas and improvisations for their characters that could end up being written into the script. Verbinski recalls how at certain times, if there was something mentioned the screenwriters didn’t like, the actors would go ahead and do it anyway. Depp recalls wanting to include a line of dialogue where Sparrow speculates Will Turner to be a eunuch. It didn’t end up making it in.
- Verbinski explains how 15 different composers worked on the music for Curse of the Black Pearl. They were all influenced and mentored by Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt who came up with the basic themes used throughout.
- To keep on schedule, Verbinski and crew had to constantly be shooting. This caused much of the backgrounds and certain ships to be fully created in post-production using CGI. Verbinski believes the constant shooting aided in the intimate feeling on set. It was doubly important to keep Curse of the Black Pearl on schedule, as water movies notoriously fall behind schedule.
- Trevor Loomis, the focus puller, used to have a job landing airplanes on an aircraft carrier. Verbinski and Depp recall how precise his distance judgement was. Trevor Loomis did not work on Top Gun. He was, however, a film loader on Color of Night, so there.
- Geoffrey Rush was adamant about choreographing and practicing the sword-fighting scenes to the point that the stunt team would become sick of dealing with him. Likewise, Depp believes Sparrow to have a Muhammed Ali approach to sword-fighting, keeping his arms down and letting his opponent come to him. Least amount of energy used for the maximum level of results is the character’s general thought on most things.
- For obvious reasons, the direct references to the ride – the prisoners trying to get the dog to come to them – work much better with American audiences than audiences in foreign territories. Evidently, they are huge moments in Anaheim.
- The casting of Sparrow’s fellow prisoners and pirate extras involved bringing in bikers and out of work actors into a basement at Disney. They were first given real weapons, but this quickly changed to rubber weapons when people began getting hurt. Out of 600 people, 10 were chosen. No word on if the other 590 were killed in pre-production.
- Verbinski wrote Geoffrey Rush a letter saying Rush was his third choice for the role of Barbossa, because he couldn’t get Alec Guinness or Peter Sellers.
- When Verbinski and Depp met for the first time, the director wondered how far Depp would take his approach to the character. Initially, Depp had an idea for Sparrow that the pirate had lost his nose in a sword-fight but it had been sewn back on. His idea was for Sparrow to have a blue nose since the circulation would be bad, and that his real fears wouldn’t be death but the common cold and pepper. As soon as Depp said it, he knew it wouldn’t be an idea that could be followed through on. Meanwhile, during the pitch, Verbinski was trying to work out how to sell the nose idea to Disney.
- During the scene of Sparrow and Will stealing the Interceptor, not all of the rope lines between the two ships had been cut. When the Interceptor began moving, the ropes began snapping before anyone on set was ready. In fact, the lines and belaying pins snapping sent pieces of wood flying through the set. One caught Depp right in the knee and knocked him completely out of frame. This was filmed but has not been released.
- The Pirates of the Caribbean ride freaked Verbinski out as a kid. He liked how the ride scared him and made him laugh at the same time, and this was a sensibility he wanted to bring to the film.
- It was important to differentiate the Black Pearl crew members from one another even when they were in their skeleton form. The eyes used for the characters are actually the actors’ eyes, just one of the decisions made between Verbinski and ILM to give the skeletal versions of the characters a personality. Likewise, in the end scene, Johnny Depp’s real eyes are used for skeleton Jack Sparrow.
- Verbinski notes that Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa is the only character in the film who delivers the typical, pirate, hard R. “And you’re doing Pepe Le Pew,” he says to Depp.
- While filming the scene where Sparrow is captured in the treasure cave, Verbinski kept the scene going while Depp and Lee Arenberg ad libbed dialogue about parlay, the French, mayonnaise, and even more talk about eunuchs. Much of this was cut. The dialogue, I mean. The eunuchs were evidently already cut, AMIRITE?
- Verbinski talks about two terms that were created on set, “visual effects ad lib” and “stunt ad lib.” Verbinski would come up with stunts and action beats on set that he would pitch to stunt coordinator George Ruge, and the coordinator would devise how to perform the action right then and there. Sometimes this would come after months of rehearsing one action only to throw in a different stunt to replace it on the spot. One such stunt was the one at the end of the film where Sparrow launches up out of the water and lands on the deck of his ship.
- The idea of film flubs comes up at one point. Verbinski mentions there are so many flubs in the film that people don’t even notice. He says there are shots that have crew members in frame that no one, to his knowledge, has pointed out before. So you can play a nice game of Where’s Waldo the next time you watch the film. Maybe win a prize? I’ll throw in a cookie.
- The instance of Jack the monkey smiling while sitting on Geoffrey Rush’s shoulder was complete luck.
- At one point during filming, a group of locals warned the crew of reefs just under the surface of the water. The marine units on set assured Verbinski they had GPS and knew exactly where every reef in the area was. This eventually led to Keira Knightley and her mother being stuck on an uncharted reef in the middle of the night. “They don’t sail around there at night,” says Verbinski referring to the locals. “No. They’re smart,” replies Depp.
- The scene with Elizabeth and Sparrow stuck on a deserted island is a pivotal moment according to Verbinski. He feels that, at this point, the viewer has all the information they need in order to end the film, but there’s still a complete act yet to occur. This is his biggest criticism with the script, that something should happen in this scene that changes how the third act plays out. I’d say Godzilla showing up, but that would just be silly.
- Originally, Jack Sparrow was never shown actually taking one of the coins. It was left ambiguous, but early test audiences were confused as to whether or not he had had a coin from the beginning or if he had always been a ghost. Instead of going back for reshoots, a shot was found that could be reversed and slowed to make the palming of the coin clearer. Also hearing Verbinski explain to Depp how the curse and the coins work is a clear indicator how convoluted these Pirates movies can get. I’m sure Godzilla wouldn’t have helped matters.
- Producer Jerry Bruckheimer was unsure about characters Pintell and Rigetti wearing dresses near the end of the film. When Verbinski went to pick them up from costume designer Penny Rose, she told him she had been told not to make them. Nonetheless, she assured Verbinski she had made them anyway.
- Verbinski and Depp both refer to Sparrow running away from danger as the “lizard running on water,” possibly a foreshadowing to their re-teaming on Rango. Hey, Godzilla was a lizard. I’m not letting this go, people.
- The treasure cave set had been ransacked of its props by the cast and crew before production wrapped. Depp mentions he and his daughter walked away with a lot of treasure, and Verbinski mentions none of the cursed coins were left when everyone was done.
- There were moments where Verbinski would purposefully frame Depp out, since his performance as Jack Sparrow was so strong. You might say distracting. No on would disagree.
- It’s 2h10m into the commentary before Keith Richards’s name is even mentioned. And that’s just in passing, not even in reference to influence on Depp’s performance. Just something odd to note.
Best in Commentary
“When I saw the trailer for the first time, there’s this giant, epic thing to the trailer, and when we were doing the film, it felt really intimate.” – Johnny Depp
“The curse is an incredible set of blue balls.” – Gore Verbinski on the film’s titular curse
“The film itself brings back kind of an old Hollywood feel. As you said before, there’s something in it for everyone as films used to be.” – Johnny Depp
“Jack’s breath is just a donkey’s ass.” – Verbinski
Even though much is learned from this commentary, much of it comes of as fluff between Verbinski and Depp. A lot of this fluff for their production and the cast and crew comes without much insight. At certain times, they throw out names and call them geniuses with little back story into who they’re actually talking about. Also, occurrences on set are brushed on but never explained. “Remember when my wig came off?” cracks Depp at one point. That’s it. No more explanation on something that you would think would have been a daily occurrence on this particular set. The two also hint at a fight on set between Verbinski and the special effects team during the deserted island scene. Again, no back story or discourse is given on the subject.
Still, the love for the project and the admiration the two have for each other comes through. Like I said. Fluff. There’s a decent amount of insight thrown in to make the commentary worthwhile, but you can’t help but wonder if there’s a more in-depth commentary track that could have been recorded. Maybe Davenport does have something to say.
Posted on 01/22/2012 11:56 PM
SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA Trailer, 15 Hi-Res Photos and Poster
Today we have a new trailer, 15 hi-res photos and poster for “Seven Days In Utopia”, starring Academy Award winners Robert Duvall and Melissa Leo, and produced by Academy Award winner Mark Mathis (Precious).
The inspirational film is based on David L. Cook’s best-selling book Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia.
Seven Days in Utopia follows the story of Luke Chisolm (Lucas Black), a talented young golfer set on making the pro tour. When his first big shot turns out to be a very public disaster, Luke escapes the pressures of the game and finds himself unexpectedly stranded in Utopia, Texas, home to eccentric rancher Johnny Crawford (Duvall). But Johnny’s more than meets the eye, and his profound ways of looking at life force Luke to question not only his past choices, but his direction for the future.
Here’s the official plot synopsis for Seven Days In Utopia:
SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA follows the story of Luke Chisolm (Lucas Black), a talented young golfer set on making the pro tour. When his first big shot turns out to be a very public disaster, Luke escapes the pressures of the game and finds himself unexpectedly stranded in Utopia, Texas, home to eccentric rancher Johnny Crawford (Robert Duvall). But Johnny’s more than meets the eye, and his profound ways of looking at life force Luke to question not only his past choices, but his direction for the future.
Based on David L. Cook’s best-selling book Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia, SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA also stars Melissa Leo, Deborah Ann Woll, Brian Geraghty, Jerry Ferrera, Joseph Lyle Taylor, KJ Choi and Kathy Baker. The film is directed by Matthew Dean Russell from a script by Cook, Rob Levine, Russell and Sandra Thrift. The film was produced by Mark G. Mathis (Brick, Precious) and Jason M. Berman (The Dry Land).
Seven Days In Utopia opens in theaters September 2nd, 2011.
Seven Days In Utopia Poster
Posted on 01/22/2012 11:54 PM
RED STATE Red Band Trailer and New Poster
Check out the red band trailer video and poster for “Red State,” Kevin Smith’s forthcoming indie horror starringMichael Parks, John Goodman, Dermot Mulroney, Kyle Gallner, Michael Angarano, Stephen Root, Kevin Pollak and Melissa Leo and centers on a group of misfits who encounter extreme fundamentalism in Middle America.
Here’s the official plot synopsis for Red State:
RED STATE unfolds in a small town dominated by a fundamentalist preacher, Abin Cooper. It tells the story of three high school boys who, on their way to an internet arranged meeting with a woman, end up crossing paths with Cooper. The encounter sets into motion a series of events that causes all hell to break loose. A horror thriller that could only come from the imagination of Smith, RED STATE stars Tarantino and Rodriguez favorite Michael Parks (“From Dusk Till Dawn”, “Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2″), Oscar Nominee for Best Actress Melissa Leo (“The Fighter,” “Frozen River”) and John Goodman, Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner and Nicholas Braun.
Red State Poster
Written and directed by Kevin Smith and produced by Jonathan Gordon, RED STATE stars 2011 Academy Award® winner for Best Actress Melissa Leo and Emmy® winner John Goodman, plus Kyle Gallner and Michael Parks. The film debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival to much notoriety when Smith ended studio bidding by buying his own film for $20 and declaring he would be self-distributing the film theatrically. Smith has since toured the film around the country to enthusiastic audiences, grossing close to $1 million to date at the US box office from only 15 single show engagements. SModcast spent less than $500 in paid advertising to support the tour which kicked off at Radio City Music Hall on March 5th and grossed $162,000 during one show. It quietly topped the per screen average charts for three weekends, becoming the 10th best per screen average film of all time.
The movie is also getting an Oscar-qualifying run at the New Beverly in Los Angeles for a week starting on Aug. 19.
Lionsgate will open Red State wider on October 19, 2011.
Below we have a new full trailer for the film, which has far more footage than the teaser, and shows the mayhem and a bit of black humor in action.
Posted on 01/13/2012 7:11 AM
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Let’s face it: some movies are bad. Not just like bad from one person’s perspective, but bad from everyone’s perspective. But sometimes there’s one redeeming thing from a bad movie, a particular piece that makes you say “Hey, that part was a shiny golden nugget in a steaming pile of horse manure.” Sometimes it’s a cameoperformance, or a particular scene, and sometimes, it’s the score. Here are 5 movies that fall under that category.
The Last Airbender
The Last Airbender was a live action adaptation of the award winning cartoon series that Nickelodeon aired for three seasons from 2005 to 2008. Things got off to a rocky start when, for the adaptation, the name was changed from Avatar: the Last Airbender, to just The Last Airbender. Why? Because a certain James Cameron film with a remarkably similar name came out at around the same time, and they didn’t want people to get confused. When you’re worried that your fanbase might not understand that one word can describe different movies, you’re not exactly getting off to the right start.
“Look honey, it’s a Star Wars sequel! It’s got ‘Return of the” right in the title!”
Then we discovered who the driving influence behind the project was as the director and the producer: M. Night Shyamalan. Everyone groaned at news of this. This man had one success, The Sixth Sense, and he let it go to his head. He began seeing dramatic plot twists everywhere. We like to think that when Barack Obama was elected President, he remarked to no one in particular, “That’s nice, but what if he were actually an alien the whole time.”
So we have a director that specializes in BS plot twists that he thinks are dramatic, and that’s fine, we guess. But the problem is that for this franchise, there are no plot twists. Everything was already mapped out by the cartoonists, the entire story arc was wrapped up with no room for interpretation. So what the hell was Shyamalan there to do? As it turns out, nothing. He made a picture that seemed to be created with the sole purpose of showcasing all the neat tricks we could do with CGI. Did it follow the plot for the most part? Yes. Was there any Shyamalan surprises for us? No. But at the same time, it was awful. It’s like he expected us to watch this film and be awed by the special effects for two hours, and call it the greatest film ever because “that guy’s flipping water through the air! In 3D!”
Elephants: Freaking Magic.
But then, amidst the chaos that was this movie, sat James Newton Howard, writing music as though he didn’t know that monkeys were flinging poop at a notebook and the director was calling them storyboards. Howard’s been a musical badass for years, serving as Elton John’s keyboardist before moving into film scores. He’s been nominated for 7 Oscars, composed the theme music for freaking ER, and even collaborated with the great Hans Zimmer on Batman Begins and the Dark Knight. This won’t be his last appearance on this list, he’s got a history of hooking up with bad movies. After all, he’s composed the music for every single Shyamalan film since Sixth Sense.
Best Piece of Music:
Days of Thunder
NASCAR has never really been portrayed well in Hollywood. It doesn’t make much sense, because on paper, you would think the sport was tailor made for film. A bunch of crazy dudes in cool vehicles smashing into each other as they race at 200 miles per hour for trophies, prize money and women hanging on your arm. It’s been done in other formats, from street racing to open wheel, the only reason we can think of for NASCAR in particular not getting any love is that filmmakers don’t like the sponsors on the hood and the accompanying paint jobs.
Well, considering that this was the “Rainbow Warriors” car, you can kind of see their point.
Jerry Bruckheimer made an attempt in 1990 with Days of Thunder, which went awry almost from the beginning when it became apparent that they were making Top Gun on wheels. Top Gun was a great movie, to be sure, but it doesn’t transfer so well when you take away Tom Cruise’s wings and put him in a Mello Yello firesuit. Because, they totally did that.
Robert Duvall’s shirt could light a darkened room.
But literally, the plots of the two movies were the exact same. A cocky hotshot (Tom Cruise, of course) thinks he can do anything, and is skilled and confidant enough to make it into Top Gun School/Winston Cup Series. He’s educated in the ways of flying/racing by a grizzled old flight instructor/crew chief, and chases a woman civilian specialist/doctor, who’s smarter than Tom Cruise and plays hard to get. After an accident, Tom Cruise loses his confidence, and it’s up to his chief rival to whip him back into shape, with the two becoming friends in the process. Then, in the heat of the moment, when the combat with the Chinese/Daytona 500 depends on him, he suddenly regains his magical ability, and wrecks shit in his way to blow away some MiGs/wreck out the jerk off driver and win the race. Role Credits.
Oh Tom, you saved the day on your motorcycle again, didn’t you?
But the soundtrack for this film was composed by that gifted German, Hans Zimmer. Chances are, if you’ve watched a movie made in the last 25 years, you’ve heard a Zimmer score or two. He’s won an Academy Award for his score on the Lion King, and a Badass award for writing awesome music for multiple badass films, from Beverly Hills Cop to Gladiator to the new crop of Batman films, to Inception. This particular film had a rock themed soundtrack in line with its subject matter, and while Hans has called the music for Days of Thunder his worst composition, we think he’s too hard on himself. Listen to this and say you aren’t ready to go out there and beat the snot out of a dude.
Alexander the Great was one of the world’s great bad mofos. He single handedly (well, him and 40,000 of his best friends, but still) conquered a tract of land from Greece to India, and if you don’t know how big that is, consult a world map.
Ah, there we go.
So, any movies made about the man were bound to be awesome. And that’s what we thought we were getting through the first half hour of Alexander. It opened with this huge and epic battle scene that made everyone get up in their seats and shout, “YES, BLOODLUST.” And then, the battle was over, and everyone sat down to watch the rest of the movie with anticipation of more awesomeness. What they got was Colin Ferrall attempting to seduce his boyfriend and yelling incoherently for two hours while Angelina Jolie tries to have sex with a teenager and a snake at the same time while a one eyed Val Kilmer looks on.
See? The only thing that’s missing is the snake, and this website would cease to be PG-13 if we showed where THAT was.
The key problem with this movie was Oliver Stone, the director. Up until this point, he’d been primarily known for dark, gritty, political tales of conspiracy theories and backstabbing. Platoon, JFK, Nixon, all dripped with a sense of unease that no one knew what the hell was going on. Stone took this style of moviemaking (which was very good, in its element) and applied it to the political climate of ancient Macedonia 2300 years ago. What’s wrong with this? First of all, no one cares about the political climate of ancient Macedonia, it has no bearing on the current politics of the world, which is why political movies work in the first place. Second of all, Alexander did so many cool and awesome and badass things, and you choose instead to focus on his screwy childhood and sexual dalliances? This would have been like if half of Patton was shown in Flashback depicting how his strict father beat young George S. and forced him into the army when all he wanted to be was a Shakespearean actor.
To grease the treads of mine tanks with German guts or not to, that is the question.
No one wants to watch a movie about that, they want to see the crazy hijinks he got up to once he was in the Army. Fine, you want to show Alex’s father’s assassination, that’s pretty cool, but don’t show me a bunch of BS that implicates Angelina Cradlerobber in the crime, that’s just more of that JFK “the wicked gain power and don’t get punished thing.” And then the rest of the movie was about Alexander suspecting all his generals of treachery and trying to get into Hephaestion’s tunic. Seriously, show us the Siege of Tyre, when he turned an island into a peninsula simply because he could, don’t show us him yelling at his army because they want to go home.
“See guys, it’s just like a big puppy, no big deal.”
But the score, the score was worthy of the epic story of asskicking we deserved, and hopefully they’ll just recycle it when they inevitably make an action-adventure about Alexander. It was composed by Vangelis, who only has one name because he’s Greek, and that’s apparently a thing. He first gained fame as the composer of the 1982 Best Picture winner Chariots of Fire, for which he pulled in his own Oscar for music, which included the slow mo piano music set to dudes running on a beach that has become synonymous with people running in slow motion. He’s an innovator in electronic music, and gained the supreme honor of composing music for the 2000 Summer Olympics. Here’s what he did for the aforementioned lone scene of asskicking in the film, “The Drums of Gaugamela.”
This movie had all the elements that make good movies happen: source material popular with fans, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, swords, dragons, and magic. So what happened?
Oh, yes I see what happened here.
The problem is that they rely on the movie goer to have already read the books, and for those people that actually did, promptly spit in their face by pulling a bunch of crazy BS to make the film not really compare to the book. The director of the film was a first timer, only having experience as a special effects director. And, you’re never going to guess what the movie appeared to focus on. Here’s a hint, it was the special effects.
This here is the Blue Magic Arrow of Fire special effect.
They put feathers on a dragon that wasn’t supposed to, that is, after they had the thing undergo a magical metamorphosis that had it evolve from a child into an adult in literally a second (it wasn’t a time lapse shot, there was some blue magic and next thing you know, Baby Dragon is Befeathered Rachael Weisz.) The performance by the actors wasn’t that great, even John Malkovich had bad lines (the first words out of his mouth in that movie were “I suffer without my stone,” said like one of those automatons from Disneyland. Jeremy Irons was the only one who didn’t act like this was a high school play.
He could probably be the fascist leader of an Eastern European nation when not acting.
But the score, the score, that was good. Patrick Doyle, a Scotsman whose credits include a Harry Potter movie and Thor, composed the music, and the battle music alone almost makes up for the fact that this clusterfuck of a movie ruins any chance of a real movie about Eragon anytime soon.
What can be said about this movie that hasn’t already been said? Kevin Costner spent 300 million dollars to portray a post apocalyptic world covered in water, where people live on boats and pirates on oil tankers terrorize honest folks, and it’s up to mutant Kevin to save the day by shooting everyone with a spear gun.
Also, a one eyed Dennis Hopper was running around, dressed in rope and belt buckles.
This movie generally ranks on most people’s movie lists as one of the most awful movies ever made, and that’s taking into account the fact that John Wayne once starred as Genghis Khan in a movie made by Howard Hughes. But guess who came in and made pretty music to salvage something from this flop? Our friend James Newton Howard.
Almost makes you cry knowing that Kevin Costner was killing people to this music, wearing no shoes and peeing into a filter for wate
Posted on 01/13/2012 7:07 AM
Pussycat & Devil EP-1
EP-3 Inside Story
EP-6 Arrangements Committee
ILLOGIC- “The Hanged Man”
Posted on 01/13/2012 3:17 AM
Posted on 01/13/2012 3:15 AM
Posted on 01/13/2012 3:13 AM
The Godfather Family: A Look Inside
Coppola’s troubles in making the Godfather trilogy weren’t nearly as dramatic as he’d later encounter, but he certainly waged some battles (at least on the first one), butting heads with Paramount over his oddball casting choices, insistence on shooting it in period (the studio wanted to update it to a contemporary setting, to stage money), and his on-set style (he says the studio had a replacement director all lined up). Jeff Werner’s documentary account of the films’ productions originally aired on HBO in advance of Godfather III’s release, so it has rather a more optimistic, positive view of that picture than we do now, but it’s still a lot of fun for fans of the films — particularly in the section of screen tests, which give us a look Martin Sheen’s Michael and Robert DeNiro’s electrifying Sonny