Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Iranian Filmmaker Jafar Panahi Jailed

Truly one of the crappiest film news of the year, the kind of injustice that should outrage anyone who lives in a free-thinking society. Here's a wonderful, intelligent, moving defense from him. If you haven't watched his films, please check out: The Circle, Crimson Gold, Offside.

Monday, December 20, 2010

We Need To Go Deeper

It's the film that refuses to go away. Here's more food for thought, if you've just caught up with it on DVD... (SPOILERS EVERYWHERE)

Watch the film's dream levels unfold simultaneously:

A cool video essay looking at how Inception's parallel editing harks back to the pioneering work of D.W. Griffith:

Last but not least, Christopher Nolan's hand-drawn Inception map:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

R.I.P. Blake Edwards & Jean Rollin

Blake Edwards, director of the Pink Panther movies and Breakfast at Tiffany's, a true comic genius. He was 88. New York Times obit.

Jean Rollin, who isn't as widely known as Edwards, but nevertheless carved his own unique niche in the world of horror films. The French auteur, who died at 77, made a bunch of haunting, surreal vampire movies in the '70s which were recognised for their mix of dream-like imagery, eroticism and trance-like qualities. One of my favourite experiences at the old retro Incredibly Strange Film Festival was being completely spellbound by Rollin's Shiver of the Vampires (trailer below). Unfortunately none of his films are available from any of our local distributors - a situation which will hopefully be rectified in the future.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In Cinemas This Week

Tron: Legacy - While investigating the mysterious disappearance of his father, Kevin (Jeff Bridges), techie Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) lands in a beguiling computerized world of enslaved gladiators, where his dad has been living for the past 25 years. Joined by Kevin's trusted friend (Olivia Wilde), the father and son must journey across a breathtaking - and perilous - cyberscape in this 21st-century update to the beloved 1982 sci-fi classic. (in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D Experience in selected cinemas)

- Set amid the hallowed grounds of Hollywood's legendary Chateau Marmont, this atmospheric dramedy centers on a hard-living actor (Stephen Dorff) whose life is thrown for a loop when his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning) pays him a surprise visit.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Are 3D Movies Even 3D?

I'm not asking this facetiously; after last night's premiere of Tron: Legacy, I feel compelled to whine again about the non-3D-ness of recent so-called "3D movies". I've posted a bit about this on my Avatar review from a year ago, and now a year later, nothing's really changed: 3D movies simply don't look 3D enough to warrant the ticket price or the experience. You just have to look at the 3D intros of IMAX or Disney (see below, in 2D) to see the difference. The IMAX intro practically destroys you with its depth - it's IN YOUR FACE. And you want to reach out and GRAB the images. On the other hand, the "immersive" thing of most current 3D films go for strikes me as just pointless. It's disappointing after being hyped up by these eye-popping intros to find that the main film is kinda flat-looking and not as visually striking. If someone can tell me why this is, I'd appreciate it!

Random Stuff #13

Monday, December 13, 2010

Projectionists: A Dying Breed

Interesting article over at Slate by Grady Hendrix about the imminent extinction of The Projectionist as we know it. You know, the person behind the scenes switching reels, checking the film is running smoothly, looking/sounding good while we're watching it. It's probably not a widely known thing (or maybe it is?), but when you go to your local Event Cinema to watch a movie, there's most probably no one there in the booth while it's being projected. Actually, just to illustrate this even clearer - if you've ever been to Sylvia Park Cinemas, it's all out there in the open. When you exit the theatre from behind, you can walk through the projection "booths", and you'll see everything's fully automated, and no one's there manning the equipment.

The machines-taking-over-people argument is a common, unsurprising debate, but nevertheless Hendrix's piece poignantly touches on the human costs of implementing such technology. It's also an "art" that'll be lost; the chemical and physical qualities unique to film projection will soon be completely replaced by a couple of mouse clicks.

I'm a "purist", and not entirely convinced by digital yet, so I'll cling onto 35mm film and projection until the very end. Seeing grain is still important to me! It'll be a sad day when the world is ruled by digital projection, but maybe by that time it might also offer the same magical properties as celluloid used to, and still do - I'll give it that.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In Cinemas This Week

Love Crime - Imagine Dangerous Liaisons crossed with Working Girl and you are well on your way to the core of Crime d’amour. Alain Corneau’s latest film is a remorseless tale of office politics played out by two ruthless executives, deliciously portrayed by the superb Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier. With ambition and jealousy oozing from their pores, they achieve the magnificent feat of eating up the scenery while delivering highly understated performances as competitive colleagues who become bitter enemies. Corneau’s script is so tight it squeaks, with precise, propulsive scenes that are bitingly sharp and cut to the quick. No asides, no longueurs. This is a masterclass in filmmaking.

Megamind - When a cunning supervillain (voiced by Will Ferrell) accidentally kills his crime-fighting nemesis, the rogue suddenly finds life boring and uninspired. So, he creates a new enemy (Jonah Hill) who seeks to destroy the world, forcing Megamind to play the hero role for once in his life. (Also screening in 3D)

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader - With their dour, bookish cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) in tow, the youngest Pevensie offspring - Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) - take an unexpected trip back to Narnia and join noble King Caspian (Ben Barnes) for an epic high-seas adventure. Setting sail aboard the Dawn Treader, the young heroes head for the end of the world, determined to rescue seven once-powerful lords banished by Caspian's evil uncle. (Also screening in 3D)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More Aliens from Blomkamp for Second Film

A few details about District 9 director Neil Blomkamp's next film have emerged: it's going to be called Elysium, it will feature aliens (on another planet though) and will star D9's lead Shartlo Copley. It'll also be another D9-style socio-political story apparently. I'm in alien-fatigue mode at the moment so I'm feeling a bit indifferent to this, but based on D9, one hopes it'll be some kind of fresh take on the genre. The question now is, does this viral teaser that hit the web last week have anything to do with the movie:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Trailer: The Beaver

Man, this one's been a long time coming... I recall getting excited when I first read about Kyle Killen's script, which topped the Black List's Top 10 Unproduced Scripts in Hollywood in 2008, but I think my initial enthusiasm has dampened somewhat to a meh? since Mel's career-killing raging psycho tirades earlier this year, and from watching this trailer. I think I was hoping for something more twisted and darker, but the trailer seems to sell the film as generic family-friendly/redemption fare - although something about the whole project does smell of "unintentionally funny misfire", with the added bonus of the Mel-scandal trainwreck factor. Trailer up first, then the inevitable fan re-edit:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fatblog's Favourite Festive Flicks

It's almost Christmas time, and it's also that time of the year where we're all scrambling together lists - best-of-year lists, shopping lists - so here's a list of classic and slightly unorthodox Christmas films for your viewing pleasure.

10. Black Christmas - I really don't expect anyone to be actually sitting down during Christmas watching this naaasty movie, but it's one of my favourite '70s slashers - and I guess if you're feeling er, masochistic or something, by all means check it out (forget the remake).

9. Batman Returns - best of those '90s Batmans. Who better to ruin the Christmas spirit than the Penguin?

8. Brazil - another kinda bummer/cynical pick; like no Christmas you'll ever have experienced.

7. Gremlins - GIZMOoooo!!

6. Miracle on 34th Street - the best heartwarming Santa movie ever

5. Home Alone - very fond memories of watching this one when I was a kid...

4. The Nightmare Before Christmas - enchanting stop-motion animation beauty from Tim Burton + terrific songs by Danny Elfman

3. Die Hard - yippee-ki-yay mofo, the most fun time you'll spend at a hostage situation during Christmas!!

2. It's a Wonderful Life - you thought this was going to be no. 1 right? no. 2 is still pretty good. Jimmy's always welcome at this time of the year.

1. Bad Santa - the best arsehole Santa movie ever. Not for the easily offended, but if you're a bit adventurous and like your humour a bit off-colour, you can't beat Billy Bob Thornton in a Santa suit cursing at kids and urinating in his pants.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

In Cinemas This Week

A Woman, A Gun, A Noodle Shop - Master director Yimou Zhang tackles an adaptation of the Coen brothers' classic Blood Simple in this period dramedy full of slapstick and plot twists. When the owner of a Chinese noodle shop attempts to kill his adulterous wife, the fireworks fly. The proprietor also hopes to eliminate his wife's woebegone lover, but complications and high-flying action arise courtesy of a rampaging band of feudal soldiers and the shop's wacky employees.

Devil - In this edgy thriller, Det. Bowden (Chris Messina) must not only save five people trapped in an elevator - a mechanic (Logan Marshall-Green), a young woman (Bojana Novakovic), an old woman (Jenny O'Hara), a guard (Bokeem Woodbine) and a salesman (Geoffrey Arend) - but he must act fast because the devil is among them.

Easy A - High school is the setting for this freewheeling comedic twist on Nathaniel Hawthorne's 19th-century novel The Scarlet Letter. Ambitious student Olive (Emma Stone) decides to boost her popularity by pretending to be the school slut. As the school's swirling rumor mill increases both her notoriety and her finances, Olive enjoys her new found status but eventually must decide which is more important: popularity or self-esteem.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale - Director Jalmari Helander expands his award-winning shorts for this unusual Christmas story set in the frozen beauty of Finland, where local reindeer herders race against the clock to capture an ancient evil: Santa Claus. Single father Rauno (Jorma Tommila) and his young son, Pietari (Onni Tommila), are caught up in the chaos as international scientists dig for artifacts. What they find endangers the entire village.

Skyline - After a wild night of partying with friends, Terry (Donald Faison) awakens to discover that he's one of the few remaining people on Earth. Banding together with a small group of survivors (Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, David Zayas, Brittany Daniel and Crystal Reed), Terry sets out to solve the mystery of what happened to the human race.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D - With their dour, bookish cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) in tow, the youngest Pevensie offspring -- Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) -- take an unexpected trip back to Narnia and join noble King Caspian (Ben Barnes) for an epic high-seas adventure. Setting sail aboard the Dawn Treader, the young heroes head for the end of the world, determined to rescue seven once-powerful lords banished by Caspian's evil uncle.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Random Stuff #12

Creepy Spanish Simpsons

In honour of today's release of The Simpsons - Season 13 on DVD and Blu-ray, check out this truly creepy clip of a live-action Spanish version of the show. I have no idea what its origins are but yeah... don't let the kids near it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen & Irvin Kershner

The film world received a double-whammy blow yesterday when news emerged that actor Leslie Nielsen (84) and director Irvin Kershner (87) had passed away. They were both iconic in their own distinguished ways: Nielsen was the perpetually deadpan grey-haired buffoon of spoof films like Airplane! and The Naked Gun, while Kershner will be forever be remembered for directing one of the greatest sequels of all time: The Empire Strikes Back (we won't say anything about Robocop 2...). RIP fellas.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

In Cinemas This Week

Due Date - When high-powered Los Angeles business executive Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) gets stuck in Atlanta during a snowstorm that grounds all flights just days before his pregnant wife's due date, he hitches a ride across the country with slacker Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis). As Peter desperately tries to get home, he must deal with Ethan's laid-back attitude, numerous delays and several mishaps in this road trip comedy.

Let Me In - When 12-year-old Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) befriends his mysterious next-door neighbor, Abby (Chloe Moretz), the two outcasts form a tight-knit bond that gives Owen the courage to stand up to school bullies. But he slowly begins to suspect his new friend has a secret. Matt Reeves directs this uncommon coming-of-age thriller based on the award-winning Swedish film Let the Right One In.

Machete - Hired to assassinate a politician, vigilante and ex-Federale Machete (Danny Trejo) nearly dies when a sniper shoots him during the job. Out for revenge, he's joined by a reluctant old buddy (Cheech Marin) who's become a pacifist priest. Written and co-directed by Robert Rodriguez, this homage to exploitation films based on his fake trailer in Grindhouse co-stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba and Steven Seagal.

The American - On the heels of a rough assignment, assassin Jack (George Clooney) declares that his next job will be his last. Dispatched to a small Italian town to await further orders, Jack embarks on a double life that may be more relaxing than is good for him. Although duty will surely call, Jack becomes friends with Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) and falls for villager Clara (Violante Placido) in this suspense thriller directed by Anton Corbijn.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed - In this British thriller, two men (Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston) meticulously prepare a small flat for the kidnapping of a young woman (Gemma Arterton). She is Alice Creed, daughter of a rich businessman. The plan is to tie her to the bed, hold her hostage and demanding a whopping ransom. But Alice isn't about to let her captors use her as capital without a fight.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Trailer: Source Code

My hype level for this one is sitting around an 8-9. It's Moon director Duncan Jones' next flick, which has been described around the place as "Groundhog Day reworked as a sci-fi thriller", or words to that effect (actually I'm get a bit of a Timecrimes/Triangle vibe from the trailer too). I can see a lot of opportunities for cool, smart twists here - let's hope Jones lives up to the potential of his accomplished debut.

High Altitude Cruise

Moviefone's posted some pics of Tom Cruise doing ker-razy stunts for the upcoming Mission: Impossible sequel. Why so crazy? Only 'cos he's hanging off the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai! Semi-hyped for this film due to the involvement of Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille), who's making his debut in live-action directing.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Trailer: Battle: Los Angeles

Oh look what do we have here... yet ANOTHER alien invasion movie. This looks marginally better than Skyline, which is getting some pretty serious hammering from critics, but you've seen it all before really. Tell me you don't see bits of District 9, Transformers, Cloverfield, etc. in here - maybe with a little Black Hawk Down and The Hurt Locker thrown in for good measure. Even though the trailer is cut without any dialogue, I can already sense US jingoism run rampant throughout the pic. EFX look good though :)

PS: is that Michelle Rodriguez I see in another no-nonsense tough chick role?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In Cinemas This Week

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 - The first installment of the two-part conclusion to the Harry Potter series finds the bespectacled wizard (Daniel Radcliffe) walking away from his last year at Hogwarts to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, putting an end to Voldemort's bid for immortality. But with Harry's beloved Dumbledore dead and Voldemort's unscrupulous Death Eaters on the loose, the world is more dangerous than ever. (Also screening as An IMAX Experience)

Lebanon - In this claustrophobic drama by first-time director Samuel Maoz -- a veteran of the early '80s Israel/Lebanon conflict in which the film is set -- four Israeli soldiers command a tank in a situation that becomes increasingly tense and chaotic. Like Das Boot before it, most of the action is confined to the stark interiors of that tank, as the men wrestle with fear, anger and their own consciences in the face of possible death and worse.

Matariki - Kiwi independent drama from debut director Michael Bennett. It’s the Maori New Year, Matariki – a time for new beginnings – when the lives of eight people are affected by one random act of violence. Aleki, a master car thief, crosses paths with rebellious teenage girl, Spit. Rugby league star Tama saves the life of desperate Gunge – an act of heroism that brings tragedy to his own family. Rick, Tama’s brother, learns to stand up for himself and Megan, Tama’s wife, comes to accept the love that surrounds her; while Lisa, pregnant and wishing on angels, finds a real angel in Tyrone, a big-hearted man who sells Matariki icons in the weekend markets.

Monsters - Six years after aliens invaded Earth, a security force maintains tenuous control in the Infected Zone straddling the U.S.-Mexican border. Andrew (Scoot McNairy), a photographer, is documenting this war-torn area when he's interrupted by an unexpected rescue mission. Samantha (Whitney Able), daughter of a media mogul who just happens to be his boss, needs an escort home, and Andrew reluctantly takes on the job.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Misery Bear: Dawn of the Ted

This has to be the cutest zombie movie parody ever!
Warning: contains horror violence to soft toys...

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Most Overused Line in Cinema

In the tradition of It's Gonna Blow, No Signal, We've Got Company, Let's Enhance, etc., here's You Look Like Shit. Kudos to whoever has the time to compile these - always a good laugh. Warning: contains offensive language.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Remembering Dino

This is a little tribute to Dino De Laurentiis - who passed on today at 91 - a Top 10 list of my favourite DDL films you can rent from fatso. What can I say? The guy is a legend and produced such a diverse range of movies, some great, some not, but always interesting.

10. Maximum Overdrive - Dino made several Stephen King film adaptations - the best being The Dead Zone - but you can't beat this one for sheer WTF fun. It did nothing at the box office, but there's definitely a small following out there who love this goofy pic.

9. King Kong ('76) - campy, entertaining big-budget romp didn't convince fans of the original classic, but it's not as bad as they say, and hey - it's nearly an hour shorter than PJ's version.

8. Barbarella - Vadim's direction is almost lethally static, but this '60s cult classic is still one of the greatest 'trip' movies of all time. I'd put Danger: Diabolik here but it hasn't been released on DVD in NZ yet (Paramount!!). See also: Flash Gordon.

7. Three Days of the Condor - key '70s political conspiracy thriller, up there with The Parallax View and All The President's Men.

6. The Brink's Job - it's a shame this movie is so unknown and neglected. One of my favourite Friedkins, it's a gem of a heist comedy with a brilliant cast.

5. Death Wish - brought on the vigilante movie craze of the '70s, turned Charles Bronson into a massive star.

4. Serpico - THE great police drama of the '70s that's not The French Connection. Al Pacino is pure stunning in this.

3. Manhunter - remains the best of the Hannibal Lecter series. Mann's electrifying direction, creepy-as-hell Tom Noonan. Way less cartoony than the Hopkins films.

2. Nights of Cabiria/La Strada - this pair of '50s Fellini flicks are personal favourites, heart-breakingly beautiful works of art that will never age.

1. Blue Velvet - Dino's faith in Lynch's unique vision created one of the most original films ever made. When this came out in the '80s, it was like an A-bomb dropped in Hollywood.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Cinemas This Week

City Island - When he recognizes his son, Tony (Steven Strait), whom he hasn't seen in more than 20 years, among a crop of new inmates in the jail where he works, Vince Rizzo (Andy Garcia) decides to bring the troubled young man home with him, much to the surprise of his wife and kids. Writer-director Raymond De Felitta helms by this offbeat comedy that also stars Julianna Margulies, Emily Mortimer, Dominik Garcia-Lorido and Alan Arkin.

Glorious 39 - Oblivious to the looming shadow of World War II, the wealthy Keyes maintain a confident fa├žade in the British countryside until daughter Anne (Romola Garai) becomes an unexpected pawn. Her accidental discovery of secret recordings forms a rift in the Keyes family. Torn between her love for a government agent (Charlie Cox) and her obsession with a dark family truth, Anne could ultimately be branded a traitor.

The Ghost Writer - A writer (Ewan McGregor) stumbles upon a long-hidden secret when he agrees to help former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) complete his memoirs on a remote island after the politician's assistant drowns in a mysterious accident. In director Roman Polanski's tense drama, the author realizes that his discovery threatens some very powerful people who will do anything to ensure that certain episodes from Lang's past remain buried.

The Social Network - David Fincher's biographical drama chronicles the meteoric rise of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) from Harvard sophomore to Internet superstar, examining his relationships with co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and founding president Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake). Aaron Sorkin penned the screenplay based on Ben Mezrich's best-seller The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook.