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.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Random Stuff #11

I love a good Kubrick-on-location snap...

And if anyone out there can tell me where I can find this LP, it would be greatly appreciated:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Trailer: Bangkok Knockout

I won't lie to you, I don't have high hopes for Bangkok Knockout as a model of cinematic storytelling, but this trailer for the new film directed by Ong Bak's action choreographer Panna Rittikrai is packed with enough wild, did-they-just-do-that? stunts and fight scenes to command my interest. If you've seen Rittikrai's Born to Fight you'll know what to expect, but if you haven't, I recommend it just to witness some of the most irresponsible stunts you'll see in any action flick from the last decade or so. Bangkok Knockout is out in Thailand on December 16, hopefully CineAsia will get it for Event Cinemas around the same time too!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Don Draper Says "What?"

Time to clean out your ears, Don!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Trailer: Sucker Punch

I'm in two minds about this one. Sucker Punch looks like an exercise for Zack Snyder (Watchmen) to cram all his adolescent fantasies (hot babes, robots, dragons, samurai warriors, and more hot babes) into one hyper-active R-rated action-fest. Although I can see myself sitting through this and scoffing at every video gamey aspect of the movie - which looks to be nearly all of it - there is also something undeniably irresistible about its go-for-broke, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink attitude. Sucker Punch is due for release on March 24 next year.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In Cinemas This Week

After The Waterfall - A New Zealand drama, based on the novel The Paraffin Child by UK author Stephen Blanchard. Set and shot in Piha, on Auckland's beautiful West Coast. Still grieving three years after the disappearance of his four-year-old daughter, forest ranger John (Antony Starr) has separated from his wife Ana (Sally Stockwell). When Ana becomes pregnant to John's best friend – the policeman in charge of his missing daughter's case – tensions boil to the surface in the isolated community. This is the debut feature from writer-director Simone Horrocks.

Jackass 3D - Johnny Knoxville and company return for the third installment of their TV show spin-off, where dangerous stunts and explicit public displays rule. Comin' at ya in 3D!

The Killer Inside Me - West Texas Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) is harboring a deep dark secret -- while the small town's residents think him a bit dim, Lou is actually affected by a "sickness" that turns the mild-mannered peace officer into a brutal, psychotic killer. Set in the 1950s, Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of Jim Thompson's classic noir novel co-stars Kate Hudson as Lou's innocent girlfriend and Jessica Alba as Joyce, a local prostitute.

You Again - In this comedy, successful PR pro Marni (Kristen Bell) heads home for her older brother’s wedding and discovers that he’s marrying her college bully and arch nemesis Joanna (Odette Yustman). Then the bride’s jet-setting aunt (Sigourney Weaver) blusters in and Marni’s mum (Jamie Lee Curtis) comes face to face with her own college rival. The claws are out as mum and daughter set out to expose their true colours. Also stars the great Betty White.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trailer: The Troll Hunter

We don't really need another faux-doco/verite horror movie. I think the format's getting more than a little tired: it's already been used for Bigfoot (The Legend of Boggy Creek), cannibals (Cannibal Holocaust), witches (The Blair Witch Project), ghosts (Paranormal Activity) and aliens (Cloverfield, Monsters). Now you can add trolls to the list. Thankfully, there's a lot of promise in this buzz-generating Norwegian flick - it looks like it may just breathe some new life into the genre. Check out this blast of a trailer and try not grinning for ear to ear: