Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Trailer: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

After starring in three consecutive mediocre films -- Little Fockers, Tower Heist, The Watch -- it looks like Ben Stiller might be getting back on track with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Stiller directs and stars in this remake of the 1947 classic, about a meek, day-dreaming LIFE magazine photographer who gets swept up in a larger-than-life adventure.  I got strong warm-fuzzy The Truman Show vibes from watching this great-looking trailer, which doesn't spell out too much plot-wise, but gives us a sense of its protagonist's penchant for getting lost in vivid fantasies. Kirsten Wiig and a crazy-bearded Adam Scott co-stars.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How Many of Spike Lee's Essential Films Have You Seen?

Spike Lee's been popping up a bit in the press recently: his new film Oldboy is on the way (although the release date has been pushed back), and he currently has a Kickstarter project to raise funds for a movie about "human beings who are addicted to blood". To drum up more publicity for it, Lee -- who's also a film professor at New York University -- shared a list of what he deems "the greatest ever films made", must-sees for anyone who wants to make films. Although we could question some of his picks (e.g. John Frankenheimer's The Train is great, but Seconds and The Manchurian Candidate might be more essential; no Friedkin?), this list of 87 films is a pretty solid cinema textbook-type selection, and if you need to fill in gaps in your film education, we do stock most of them in our library:

Bad Lieutenant
Rear Window
North by Northwest
Bonnie and Clyde
The Conformist
Last Tango in Paris
Ace in the Hole
Some Like It Hot
Killer of Sheep
Night of the Hunter
Raising Arizona
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Lawrence of Arabia
On the Waterfront
Face in the Crowd
La Strada
La Dolce Vita
8 1/2
City of God
The Godfather
The Godfather Part II
400 Blows
Day for Night
Mad Max
The Road Warrior
Battle of Algiers
The Last Detail
West Side Story
Stranger than Paradise
The Train
The Maltese Falcon
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Fat City
Midnight Cowboy
Marathon Man
Boyz n the Hood
Los Olvidados
Black Orpheus
Home of the Brave
Mean Streets
Raging Bull
The Red Shoes
Coolie High
I Am Cuba
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next
District 9
In the Heat of the Night
Touch of Evil
Blue Collar
White Heat
Is Paris Burning?
To Kill a Mockingbird
Rome Open City
Black Rain
Dog Day Afternoon
Singin' in the Rain
Paths of Glory
Dr. Strangelove
Kung Fu Hustle
Dirty Pretty Things
Hoop Dreams
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Empire of the Sun
Cool Hand Luke
Days of Heaven
The Wizard of Oz
An American in Paris
Lust for Life
The Bicycle Thief
Miracle in Milan
Dead End

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Story of Life as Told by the Movies

This great little mash-up pieces clips from a whole bunch of movies together to tell the story of life through its various stages, from birth to death etc. See if you can spot where the clips are from...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity Wows Comic-Con

Exclusive footage of Alfonso Cuaron's sci-fi flick Gravity was revealed at Comic-Con and the reactions have been, promisingly, rather hyperbolic. The film, which stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, is said to recreate the terrifying experience of being adrift, floating helplessly in space, and from the footage shown, it appears to have done just that for those who saw it. I kinda dig Cuaron's description of the film as "an IMAX documentary that goes wrong". Interestingly, he cites Steven Spielberg's Duel and '70s existential car-chase pic Vanishing Point as influences. Here's the teaser trailer to get an idea of the dazzling technical virtuosity we can expect come October 3:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Trailer: 12 Years a Slave

Was Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained too cartoony and silly for you? Was Spielberg's Lincoln just too dry, talky and boring? Maybe Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave will meet you halfway. This period piece, which stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt, looks like McQueen's most accessible, biggest-budget film to date, but in saying that, it's unlikely that the director of such uncompromising works such as Hunger and Shame will turn in a film about a touchy, controversial topic like slavery that's remotely "easy" to watch. Click below to check out some sweet facial hair on the Pittster:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mockbusters 101

Last Thursday Twitter went berserk over the screening of a TV movie called Sharknado in the States. I don't think it's too difficult to guess what Sharknado is about but in case you're wondering here's the trailer:
So it's basically a movie about sharks falling from the sky. And it apparently led to 5,000 tweets-per-minute during the busiest period of the tweet-storm. Many celebrities contributed the frenzy too, including Mia Farrow (!), Olivia Wilde and screenwriter Damon Lindelof.

We haven't got Sharknado in our library yet (it will probably come soon), but do carry many of these "mockbusters", most of them produced by The Asylum studio. Surprisingly these titles get rented (which is why we continue to stock 'em)....but unsurprisingly they lead to bad customer reviews, like this one of Super Shark:

I have to ask though, what do you expect when you rent a movie called Super Shark??

Anyway, Total Film just compiled a useful list of these laughable knock-offs; for the curious who've never seen a mockbuster before you can rent these ones from us:

The Day the Earth Stopped
Mega Piranha
Princess of Mars
American Warships
6 Guns
Street Racer
Titanic II
The Amityville Haunting
I Am Omega
Alien Origin
Transmorphers: Fall of Man
3 Musketeers
2012 Supernova
200 MPH
The 7 Adventures of Sinbad
The Terminators
Nazis at the Center of the Earth
Jack the Giant Killer
Allan Quartermain and the Temple of Skulls
Bikini Spring Break
Alien vs Hunter
Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies
Grimm's Snow White
Almighty Thor
Paranormal Entity
Battle of Los Angeles
Snakes on a Train

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Trailer: Oldboy

Park Chan-wook's Oldboy remains one of the most electrifying, stylish and gleefully twisted revenge thrillers of the '00s. Its ingenious plotting all but guaranteed an English-language remake, but the road to getting there has been an incredibly long one, with names such as Justin Lin, Will Smith, Christian Bale and Steven Spielberg attached to and passing through the project at various points since the rights were secured. Spike Lee was finally given to the job to direct it, and though I generally do not care for most of Lee's work, I'm somewhat curious to see how different the two films are, other than the fact that the American version, understandably, will be sans the infamous octopus-eating scene of Park's. If you have not seen the original, I definitely urge you to catch it first, but subtitle-phobes will probably just want to hang out for Lee's film. Here are the trailers for both (they look pretty similar to these eyes):

Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday Clips #6

Three funny supercuts to start off, then an Onion Kickstarter spoof, James Gandolfini in Sesame Street, and a beautiful time-lapse short film...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Hulk vs. Man of Steel

I don't usually have time to read all the lengthy film essays that pop up on the web, but there's one particular writer -- who pumps out among the longest -- I'm happy to devote a few hours to. Going solely by the name of "Hulk", he's a regular contributor to Badass Digest, where he publishes extremely wordy but thoughtful pieces on film and film criticism, with the added novelty of writing entirely with the CAPS LOCK on. I'm sure the fact that it seems like he's always shouting adds to the persuasiveness of his arguments, but really, this guy knows what he's talking about and how to lay down the law in the most cogent, perceptive yet accessible fashion possible.

His latest piece takes down the abysmal storytelling of Zack Snyder's Superman reboot Man of Steel and should be read by anyone interested in how dramatisation and characterisation are important tools in telling effective cinematic stories. Where Snyder's film might excel in its VFX department, it practically fails in every other regard, most glaringly, getting us to care for any of the characters amidst the destruction. If you fall into the "critics should relax, just enjoy the damn action" camp*, Hulk's writing probably isn't for you, but for a deeper understanding of movies and how certain elements affect us while we watch them, it's a thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking, if slightly exhausting read.

*Actually if you're one of these, I recommend you read it anyway, you might learn something :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Changing Shape of Cinema: The History of Aspect Ratio

Ever wondered what the "Screen format" field in the movie detail page is? What it means, what it refers to?
I'm assuming most people these days are already clued into letterboxing etc., but if you're not or have always wondered "what those black bars" are on your TV screen, let me direct you to this educational video from FilmmakerIQ breaking down the history of the Aspect Ratio...