Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Martin Scorsese: Genre-Hopper

I've never really thought of Martin Scorsese as a genre-hopper before, even though it's pretty clear he's had a fairly varied career, working in different genres. Here's a neat infographic from Fast Company that visually summarises his body of work by genre and gives credence to the notion that he's often attempted other things beyond the crime/gangster movies that he's more well-known for:

Also be sure to check out the full interview with Scorsese - it's an excellent read which goes into his relationship with Hollywood and how he's manage to stay afloat in the "system" after all these years.  His new 3D kids film Hugo, out here on Jan 12, is currently garnering really good press, probably some of his best in recent years.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

RIP Ken Russell

Ken Russell, one of Britain's most provocative and controversial directors, has died at age 84. The breadth of Russell's career is too great and wide-ranging that I could not possibly do any justice to it (having only seen a small percentage), but I can say this: the guy made one of my favourite films of all time: The Devils, an incendiary masterpiece that somehow continues to disturb Warner Brothers so much that they apparently still refuse to release it on DVD or give it any respectable home video treatment it definitely deserves (though the British Film Institute are rectifying this next year; one can only hope for a NZ release).

Sad to say we only have a miniscule portion of Ken Russell's work in our library but what there is is worth delving into if you're the least bit curious about him - certainly films like Tommy, Women in Love and Mahler are among his best and most acclaimed.

Round-up of obits: BBC News, The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, New York Times.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Doco Short: The Umbrella Man

Fans of detective fiction, conspiracy theories and oddball phenomena in general should watch this cool short documentary clip by Errol Morris (Standard Operating Procedure) about the "Umbrella Man", a seemingly enigmatic figure spotted in the Zapruder footage that filmed JFK's 1963 assassination. It's a segment from a six-hour interview he conducted with Josiah Thompson, the author of the book "Six Seconds in Dallas" which looks extensively at the Zapruder film.

Even though the man is utterly fascinating and chilling the first time we see him (it's a sunny day, open black umbrella, what the hell??), the "mystery" is not so much what's interesting about this doco, but how it illuminates the notion of macro/micro levels of historical research which Thompson talks about, and what Morris describes as "the nature of investigation and evidence" in his statement. I look forward to seeing more.

(This actually kind of reminds of that silly Cellphone Time Traveler case from last year...)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Spoof Trailer: The Walken Dead

I love a good Christopher Walken impression, here's a video full of them, and they're zombies to boot... a smart little spoof of AMC's The Walking Dead, which is coming to DVD and Blu-ray on December 5th!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fight for 35mm

Here's another boring post/moan about the death of celluloid which everyone should sit up and take notice of, of course. Especially when you have high profile film critics like Roger Ebert writing heartfelt eulogies to 35mm, and Julia Marchese of New Beverly Cinema, a revival theatre in L.A. which Tarantino saved not too long ago, starting a petition to fight for the film's survival. The end is truly nigh. So if you still love seeing living, breathing, beautiful film projected in theatres, as opposed to the ALL-DIGITAL ROUTE things are eventually heading in, read this, and then go sign Marchese's petition to show you care (see also: Death of the Film Camera).

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Outer Limits: A Post-24 Hour Movie Marathon Wrap-Up

One of the oddest things about the 24 Hour Movie Marathon each year is the feeling that it doesn't seem that long since that last one. I only ever venture out to Avondale once a year, for the marathon, and whenever I'm on the way there, taking the motorway exit, driving pass the Avondale shops, I get struck with a de ja vu-like sensation that it was just the other week I was here. This may be in part due to the fact that the marathon is such an indelible experience that it actually stays with you throughout the year, whether you're conscious of it or not. Or least that's how I'm trying to justify the feeling.

Not to sound like my judgement has been coloured by Fatso's involvement as sponsor or anything, but this year's marathon has to go down as one of the best, an opinion I think - I hope anyway - will be shared by many marathon-goers. The line-up of films was as delirious and varied and unpredictable as ever, ranging from pulpy '70s crime dramas to dime-store period horrors to super-obscure spaced-out student films to surreal regional oddities.

For those wondering what the effect of watching around 12 movies in a row in a theatre is like... first off, there WILL be some nodding off at some point. Unless you're wildly hopped up on V, or caffeine or some similar sleep-deprivation substance, there's a high chance you won't be fully awake at 3 in the morning trying to comprehend the non-existent plot of a glacially paced sexploitation flick that features an ailurophobic gangster. Everything starts to blur before breakfast time. You'll be confusing the line-up of films ("did Film X come first or Film Y or..?"), or forgetting something even played. It is a sort of druggy state of mind, something enhanced especially when the program fearlessly plunges into depths of cinema so unconventional, so extremely removed from norms of taste and technique that you feel zapped into another dimension. Which is to stay, whilst the marathon will provide you with many hours of laughter and entertainment, it is also a COMPLETE SENSORY EXPERIENCE. You won't be the same person you were earlier during the day when you sat down and eagerly awaited the first film out of the gate while the innocuous old-timey sounds of a live wurlitzer opened the event.

Kudos to Ant and the Incredibly Strange team, the Hollywood Cinema crew, and the appreciative, douche-bag-free audience for a fantastic 24 hours.

Stray thoughts:
  • The dinner/breakfast catering seemed to work really well.
  • If most people knew the rarity of some of the prints shown... mind-blown.
  • It seems to be warmer upstairs than downstairs. I usually sit down stairs at the back. There's a lot of legroom. 
  • Few projection issues this year, i.e. nothing broke (Correction: there was a break at the end of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark according to marathon attendee Doug Dillaman - I must have slept through it)
  • Ant mentioned that this would be the last year that the marathon will be mostly 35mm (sob).
  • The superette next door has expanded!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Trailer: Safe and Safe House

A couple of action-packed trailers for upcoming films with the word Safe in their titles and starring two actors who I'll almost always watch simply because they look cool beating the crap out of people. Both films seem to be on par quality-wise, though I might give the edge to Safe House because of Denzel's acting muscle.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

ABCs of Death Winner Announced: T is For Toilet

Check out the winning entry for the ABCs of Death competition, a terrifically gory piece of claymation from UK-based Lee Hardcastle. His short will be joining works by the likes of Ti West (House of the Devil), Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun) and Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) in this hotly anticipated horror anthology film produced by Ant Timpson and Tim League.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fatso 24 Hour Movie Marathon: The PSAs

The PSA entries for the Fatso 24 Hour Movie Marathon competition are in. Check them out, tell us what you think! Thanks to all who entered - great effort! (warning: contains offensive language, nudity and bad taste)

The Dangers of Sitting: DVT & YOU from Hand-Out Collaborative on Vimeo.

Movie Marathon PSA: A Moviegoer's Story from Andrew Todd on Vimeo.

Spike Cellphone Helmet from Nick Withers on Vimeo.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Loopy for Looper

SlashFilm has just posted some early buzz on Rian Johnson's next film, the time-travel thriller Looper and I couldn't resist echoing my anticipation for it. Although his sophomore effort The Brothers Bloom was a bit wobbly, I'm expecting - at least hoping - Looper will demonstrate the creativity and conviction of his debut Brick, albeit on a larger scale. Johnson's been documenting the production on tumblr, which is filled with beautiful images from the set, and if it's any indication of how the film will turn out, then it's going to be a real stunner. Unfortunately we'll have to wait until September 2012 to see it...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Make My Movie Finalists Announced

The 12 finalists for the Make My Movie competition have been revealed. They were culled from 730 entries (!), no easy task I imagine - but from seeing the sheer number of head-slapping, WTF pitches I'd say it also wasn't too hard to pinpoint the contenders. For what it's worth, here's my loosey-goosey rundown of the finalists:

Poster: Fantasy, adult-fairy-tale graphic novel by a 16-year-old girl? I dunno.
Idea: My initial thought was it was some kind of non-PC Harold and Kumar deal (incompetent slackers...), but the synopsis ends up reading darker ("brutal kidnapping"). The one-location setting and real-time approach are ambitious, budget-conscious decisions, but it's going to need some solid perfs and smart, convincing writing to pull its premise off.
Verdict: Nope.

Poster: Eye-catching perspective/image, wide open spaces = sense of mystery, possibility.
Idea: Limited location/characters works for the budget. Sergeant Dave sounds like a great meaty role. Interesting shifting dynamics between characters could fuel some tense moments, but will need to be super persuasive and not turn into a turgid chamber drama.
Verdict: Maybe.

Poster: That typeface has got to go.
Idea: Fun fantasy concept, if not entirely original. Could see this as a winning, charming lo-fi comedy if done right. Want to see what they do with the costumes and sets on a shoe-string. Getting a Bill & Ted/Galaxy Quest meets Michel Gondry/Special Problems feel.
Verdict: Potential.

Poster: Off-putting. What is that? Ecoli?
Idea: Maybe it's the poster, which doesn't even begin to give you an idea of the story's tone or anything, or maybe it's the thought of blue cheese and porn in the same picture... but this smells like misfire to me.
Verdict: Nope.

Poster: I get it, but needs work.
Idea: Has there been a creepy stalking rom-com before? I can't think of one off the top of my head. This could be a goer. Mass crowd appeal because we're all stalkers at heart.
Verdict: Potential.

Poster: First thoughts: The Invisible Man/The Tenant/Timecrimes.
Idea: This kind of hallucinatory brain-melt plot is usually up my alley but hard to gauge if this is tongue-in-cheek or not ("drinking endless pina coladas"). Intriguing to say the least, and there aren't enough movies with hypnotists around. Not really fond of that title aye.
Verdict: Maybe.

Poster: Torturrrre porrrnn.
Idea: Like The Bach, title is unmistakably NZ. Do we really need a Kiwi Deliverance or Rituals? It'll need to bring some fresh to the table. Dig the MacGyer quote, hope they can come up with some cool make-shift contraptions.
Verdict: Maybe.

Poster: Nice, clean.
Idea: Source Code-y high concept that sounds like a tired Twilight Zone gimmick, but if it can produce some serious laughs and nifty twists, then I'd like to see them.
Verdict: Maybe.

Poster: Looks like a sports flick with a phantom angry face seeping through the paper.
Idea: I can go with 4 girls on mountain bikes, but the rest of it sounds a bit rote. Broken leg, no cell phone reception, etc. Actually if you had the 4 girls on mountain bikes vs the Number 8. wire dude that would be the ideal pic.
Verdict: Nah.

Poster: Oh dear.
Idea: A haunted taxi cab.
Verdict: Do not want.

Poster:  I actually would love to see a poster with the words "SEX PRIEST" in the lobby of Event Cinemas.
Idea: Bad Santa but with a priest? Taboo-busting, irreverent comedy could be quite something if they can make it work (I can't imagine how at this stage) - but sounds like it has a sweet twist to it as well.
Verdict: Maybe.

Poster: Slick. Minimal. Striking.
Idea: A profession rarely seen on film so immediately fascinating. Thinking Rod Serling's Blow Out or The Conversation or something. Trick is whether writers can sustain the plot's central tease for an entire feature.
Verdict: Sure.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Every Michael Bay Explosion Ever

Don't think this needs any further explanation... what can I say, the guy loves it when things go BOOM.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Craziest Film Set in the History of Film?

Ok, now this is nuts. This jaw-dropping GQ article goes behind the scenes of Russian director Ilya Khrzhanovsky's insane magnum opus Dau, a film which has been shooting for 5 years with no clear intention of stopping. But that's only the start of it. You need to read the entire piece to fully appreciate the magnitude and craziness of this undertaking, which involves a self-contained community under totalitarian rule. If this is true, it would be the most bizarre film production ever, like a real-life Soviet version of Synecdoche, New York or something...