Coming soon...

Friday, February 29, 2008

New Iron Man trailer

Jon Favreau's Iron Man is shaping up rather nicely. It's been somewhat overshadowed by a certain Fedora-sporting archaeologist and cowl wearing vigilante for the last few months, but it does look like it'll be a lot of fun. I don't know very much about the character (just from what I've read in Avengers and what certain geekier friends of mine have banged on about), but the casting of Robert Downey Jnr. looks inspired. We'll see for sure in May

Thursday, February 28, 2008

BE KIND REWIND (2008) - Michel Gondry

Despite marking his debut with Human Nature, a film that didn’t really register on many peoples’ radar, Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind proved that he was one of the most inventive directors working. After working with writer Charlie Kauffman on Human Nature and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Gondry went solo for The Science of Sleep, and this month with Be Kind Rewind. It’s the most traditional and linear of his films, yet it retains the experimental sensibilities that we’d come to expect from Gondry.

Be Kind Rewind is a small video shop situated in a run-down part of New Jersey. The shop is owned and operated by Mr. Fletcher, a kindly old man who’s only other love, other than that of the community is for that of jazz. Mike also works in the shop and has spent his whole life growing up there, steeped in the stories of famed jazz musician Fats Waller that Mr. Fletcher has told him. The threat of big business puts Be Kind Rewind under threat, and gives Mr. Fletcher very little time to raise the funds required to keep the shop alive. When he heads away for a Fats Waller memorial, he leaves Mike in charge. But Mike’s hapless friend Jerry inadvertently erases all the films in the shop, putting the shop in dire straits. But Mike and Jerry come up with a plan to save the shop. The decide to Swede all the tapes, to film the movies with themselves in place of the actors.

The main thing about Be Kind Rewind is that not only is it a film about experimental filmmaking, it’s experimental filmmaking itself. It’s about love for film, and in another way, it’s a protest against the big budget filmmaking that is so prevalent in the Hollywood industry. Mike and Jerry aren’t experienced filmmakers. They don’t have a penny for a budget. And yet despite these drawbacks, they create films that are incredibly popular. Now, obviously, it’s fiction. Whether this would be popular in real life is questionable. But in the age of Youtube, which is a forum that would suit Swedeing down to the ground, it’s not entirely inconceivable that a pair of filmmakers like Mike and Jerry could become worldwide celebrities.

And it’s the enthusiasm of the protagonists that drives the charm of Be Kind Rewind. Their knowledge of the films they’re Swedeing isn’t encyclopaedic, but that doesn’t stop them. Casting Jack Black as Jerry was a good decision. As seen in High Fidelity, Black has a frenetic energy that at times seems unstoppable. And he brings this to the role of Jerry, a character who, despite the protestations of others, ploughs ahead sometimes without thinking. Mike on the other hand, is more conservative. While the initial idea to Swede the movies was his, he wants to quit at one, unlike Jerry, who loves the fame the film has brought them. The combination of these two characters is endearing, and adds to the charm of the film.

Michel Gondry’s direction is, as always, fantastic. He has a real whimsical style, which lends itself perfectly to the movie. In one particularly lovely moment, we see a few of the movies Mike and Jerry are Swedeing. But instead of doing a montage using different cuts, Gondry shows each film in one continuous shot, with the actors running around putting themselves into different films like We Were Kings, King Kong, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Men In Black. It’s this one little scene that sums up the style of the film really, and is a stand out moment which will be difficult not to smile warmly at.

While the film isn’t perfect, it’s very entertaining. The most enjoyable parts are when we see the guys Swedeing different films. But sometimes these moments can get in the way of the story. It’s an interesting conflict, but shouldn’t stand in the way of enjoying the film. A really good cast and some excellent direction means that Be Kind Rewind is a really nice, entertaining film.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

CLOVERFIELD (2008) - Matt Reeves

And so, after a pretty tantalising and successful viral marketing campaign, Cloverfield arrives on our screens. It was clear from the start that this film would be a blockbuster of some kind, with a huge catastrophic event taking place in New York City. Something that would go so far as to leave the Statue of Liberty decapitated, and her head hurled into the city. As plot details trickled onto the net, it became clear that Cloverfield was a monster movie. But not a monster movie like Godzilla. This was a guerrilla monster movie, shot like The Blair Witch Project.

The plot for Cloverfield is pretty thin. But unusually, this works in favour of the movie. Instead of trying to be something it’s not, Cloverfield sticks to the spectacle, and doesn’t get bogged down in politics, subtext or allegory. The film is presented as a video tape that is found after the New York disaster. We’re given little introduction to the film, instead just being shown the tape. The first twenty minutes or so introduces us to a bunch of twenty-somethings. They’re gearing up for a going-away party for Rob, who’s been offered a job in Japan. Inter-cut with this is footage of Rob and Beth, shot a month before the party, who have just spent the night together. Something their friends aren’t aware of. During the party, Rob and Beth have an altercation and she leaves. Rob, his brother Jason and their friend Hud, who’s filming the events have a talk on the balcony. At this point you begin to wish things would just take a turn for the worse and the monster would attack. And it does. Everyone decides to flee Manhattan. But Rob gets a call from Beth who is trapped under a wall in her apartment. So he, Hud and two girls decide to head back into Manhattan to rescue Beth.

The style of Cloverfield is going to split audiences. The format, which is almost like a home-movie will annoy some audience members. Nothing is clear, with all the footage hand-held, shaky and frenetic. We rarely get a clear shot of the monster, which is something I think adds to the film. By shooting the film in this style, it feels more frantic and immediate. There’s little let-up in the action and it’s all about the chasing. Had the film been shot as a conventional movie, we’d have ended up with another snooze-fest comparable to Roland Emmerich’s 1998 piece of crap, Godzilla. That’s not to say that this approach is flawless. There were one or two moments when the camera was pointed away from the action and I found myself almost shouting at Hud to turn the damn camera around.

While the lack of story does benefit the film, it also leaves us with little emotional connection to the characters. The opening twenty minutes is a little slow, and the characters do become a little annoying. I suppose this is all right as the filmmakers are just lining up the fodder for the monster. When the characters do start getting picked off (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s monster movie. People are going to die) you’re more concerned with HOW they die rather than who dies. Maybe that’s a symptom of my desensitisation towards movies, but the point still stands. There’s little for the actors to do other than to run around and look terrified, and they do this adequately.

The monster itself is the real draw of the film, and I didn’t think it disappointed. It’s is HUGE. And it’s pretty indestructible too. It’s pretty amusing to watch the army march towards it, firing their guns at it, to absolutely no effect. There are parasitic monsters that drop off the monster and attack people. While this seems tacked-on, I can understand why it was added to the film. The monster is so big that it would be impossible for it to engage with the characters other than just to stomp on them. So the addition of the little monsters brings the action to a more personal level.

While there are some plot contrivances that boarder on the ridiculous, on the whole, Cloverfield is a pretty entertaining movie. It’s refreshingly brief too, clocking in at only 85 minutes. Short and sweet, it’s by no means a perfect movie. But it achieves exactly what it sets out to do, and provides some fairly tense moments. It suffers some of the same set-backs The Blair Witch Project suffered from. But it’s a better movie than that. The effects are great, the action’s frenetic and it’s short enough so that it doesn’t suffer from having to add in too much filler. Solid entertainment.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Watchmen's all wrapped up.

Zach Snyder (Dawn of the Dead 2004, 300) has completed production on his adaptation of Alan Moore comic epic, Watchmen. It was a project that spent a long time in limbo, with Paul Greengrass at one time attached to direct. That, I'd have loved to have seen. But Snyder will do! Anyone who's read the comic knows that this is going to be one hell of a difficult project to pull off, but from what I've seen so far, it looks like Snyder's got a good grip on the material. It should be a film that totally subverts the whole convention of the comic book movie. But we wont know for sure until March 09. In the mean time, here's an image of the comic's iconic anti-hero, Rorschach flambeing some unfortunate fella.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More new Indy!

With only one day to go until the release of the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull trailer, things are hotting up. Italian website L'espresso has gotten their hands on some new images, including one of Indy facing one of his least favorite things in the world...

And for dessert, here's one of the covers of the upcoming comic book adaptation of the film. Just for shits and giggles, really!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

JUNO (2007) - Jason Reitman

Every year at the Oscars, there’s one film that doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the pack. A kind of film that’s no where as big as the others, dealing with smaller issues and featuring a cast of characters that are never meant to set the world on fire. Last year’s ‘Little Film That Could’ was Little Miss Sunshine. I have to admit, by the time I got around to seeing Little Miss Sunshine (the screenings were CONSTANTLY sold out), I felt that the film was over-hyped and not nearly as good as people made out. The same sort of hype surrounds this year’s LFTC, Juno.

Juno is a smart, witty, outsider of a sixteen year old girl. She doesn’t fit in with the rest of the school crowd, playing guitar in a band and being picked on by the jocks. At the beginning of the film, Juno is guzzling SunnyD in order to work up enough pee for a pregnancy test. After three such tests, the results are undeniable, she’s pregnant. She decides on an abortion, but after visiting the clinic, she decides to keep the baby and give it up for adoption. After scouring the want-ads for couples seeking babies, she meets Mark and Vanessa, a seemingly perfect couple. Vanessa definitely wants a baby, but Mark isn’t so sure.

Juno is the kind of film that’s a hybrid of a coming of age story and teen comedy. It’s feels like the film Wes Anderson would have made if he took a stab at a teen comedy and toned down his signature quirkiness. It’s smart, but it’s not the kind of film that fits in with the Superbad crowd. Unlike the similarly-plotted Knocked Up, it’s not a laugh riot, but rather a charming, character-driven smart comedy. Written by first-timer (and currently 38th smartest person in Hollywood, according to Entertainment Weekly) Diablo Cody, the film is driven by the screenplay. Some have accused Juno of being too smart. That the younger characters in the film, Juno and her friends wouldn’t speak as wittily and smartly in real life. But all that is pretty much irrelevant. The script works very well and is damn entertaining. And that’s one of the most important things for the success of the film.

The other key element to the success of a character-driven film like Juno is the casting of the titular character, Juno. Director Jason Reitman made a wise decision in casting Ellen Page as Juno. Page delivered an outstanding performance in 2005’s brilliant thriller, Hard Candy. Juno is a confident, smart teenager. But she’s not wise. She approaches her pregnancy in the kind of twisted logic that would be expected of a young girl who’s more concerned with music and horror movies than the baby she’s carrying. And it’s to Ellen Page’s credit that she plays Juno so well.

Ellen Page is supported by a cast of actors that play their characters very well. Particular credit must be given to Jennifer Garner who plays Vanessa, one half of the couple who placed the ad Juno responds to. Vanessa longs for a baby. She can’t have one herself, and you can see from Garner’s performance that this hurts her. Despite her best efforts not to, she’s pinning all her hopes on the baby Juno’s carrying, and this longing is subtly carried across by Garner. Hers, and her screen husband Jason Bateman’s performances are far better than the performances they deliver in 2007’s appalling film, The Kingdom. Michael Cera, no stranger to comedies plays Juno’s one-time sexual conquest, Paulie. Cera has the nervous teen thing down to a tee, and while his character is less cartoony than that of Superbad, he provides excellent support for Ellen Page. Juno’s father and stepmother are played by J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney, both excellent character actors.

Juno seems to have split some audiences. Some found the overtly witty dialogue grating and the film itself a little twee. But this isn’t the case at all. It’s a charming film. The script is certainly witty, and while there may be something to be said about how the characters speak, and how overtly smart and witty the dialogue is, it works within the context of the movie, and shouldn’t really be called into question. The actors are all very comfortable with their characters, and the cast is very likable. It’s in no way a perfect film, but Juno is very entertaining. If you failed to even smile at it, I’d call into question whether you do in fact, have a soul!


Monday, February 11, 2008

Roy Scheider 1932-2008

Roy Scheider, the actor best known for his role as Chief Martin Brody in Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, Jaws, has passed away. Scheider had been acting since the 60's and had major roles in such notable films as The French Connection, Marathon Man, 2010 and Naked Lunch. But it was his role as the everyman Police Chief of Amity in Jaws that audiences would be most familiar with. He also got to speak one of cinema's most famous and oft-quoted lines... 'You're gonna need a bigger boat.'

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Key To Reserva

This was posted a few months ago, and lord knows why I didn't post anything about it then. Anyway, it's an ad for wine or something... that's not the important part. What is important is that it's a mockumentary about Martin Scorsese finding part of a lost Alfred Hitchcock script, and deciding to shoot it in the Hitchcock style.

It's brilliant for two reasons. Firstly, Scorsese does film the 'lost' script as Hitchcock would have. And he does a mighty fine job of it too. He really captures the style and feel of a Hitchcock thriller, especially by using the Bernard Hermann score. Secondly, Scorsese shows he really has a flair for comedy, delivering some pretty funny lines of dialogue during the interview.

Anyway, enough talk. Here's the ad-

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

And ANOTHER Indy picture.

At this stage, there are so many images being released, I'm beginning to think they're releasing the film frame by frame on the internet. Anyway, Indy in one of those locations we've come to expect from the saga- old, dusty, and with something dead in the walls...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Sidney Lumet is one of those legendary directors who’s directing credits read like a list of classic movies. Under his belt are such classics as 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon and Network. Over the last few years, he hasn’t been on as notable form, even hitting the depths by casting Vin Diesel in his last movie, Find Me Guilty. But that slip-up aside, he makes some great casting decisions with his latest film, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead.

Before The Devil Knows Your Dead is a heist movie that relies on character exploration rather than the thrills of the robbery. The film opens with the robbery in question. The robbery is masterminded by Andy, who ropes his brother into the operation. Andy is an accountant for a real estate firm. He’s worked his way up from humble beginnings, and is now on a six figure salary. Along with that success comes the problems that can be associated with it. He has a drug problem that is spiralling out of control and he’s finding it difficult to maintain the high life for his wife. Andy’s brother Hank is the opposite of his brother. He’s constantly referred to as a loser. He’s strapped for cash, missing alimony payments, and struggling to keep his daughter in a rich school. While he’s somewhat morally superior to his brother, he’s weaker in personality, and is easily cajoled into the plan. But the plan goes desperately wrong and each step the brothers take to right the situation leads them down a more dangerous and morally corrupt path.

While this film is a heist film, the heist is not the centre point of the film. It happens at the beginning of the film, and sets events in motion. The rest of the film examines events just before the heist, and how the brothers deal with the consequences of the disastrous plan. It’s an examination of sibling rivalry and moral corruption. The film is structured in a number of flashbacks. While this structure is certainly up to speed with modern filmmaking (think Memento, but not with everything running backwards), it sometimes kills the pace of the film. Just when things heat up, the film flies back to previous events and shows what happened from a different point of view.

But while this slows the film in terms of pacing, it is an interesting way of showing characterisation. And it’s here where the film’s strength lies. Lumet’s worked with some of the best actors in the business, and this time, he’s cast one of the finest actors around. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Andy and once again delivers a fantastic performance. Hoffman completely embodies each of his characters, and while he’s got the creepy factor down (Punch-Drunk Love, Charlie Wilson’s War), he can also play characters not so odd. And while Andy is morally corrupt, he’s not a creep. However, that doesn’t detract from Hoffman’s performance. It’s every bit as good as everything he does.

Playing against Hoffman as Hank is Ethan Hawke. Hawke’s a very reliable actor, and it’s no easy job going up against someone like Hoffman. But Hawke does a fine job here, playing Hank as weak as the written character demands. It’s a great performance that contrasts Hoffman’s, and Hoffman never dominates the film. This is also a credit to Lumet’s direction that he gets such quality performances from his leads. Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei provide excellent support as Andy and Hank’s father and Andy’s wife.

While the film does seem to drag at times, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead still is a pretty good thriller. This is mostly down to the performances from the leads. The direction is kept as snappy as possible, but the flashbacks kind of bog it down. Worth checking out at least once.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Iron Man Superbowl TV spot

Iron Man, Iron Man, does whatever an... iron... can. And more, it would seem from this TV spot. Looks great. Especially like the last bit, even though it's a tad special effects-ey

Sunday, February 3, 2008

And another new Indy image...

Here's yet another new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull image. The early fears of Harrison Ford being too old to play Indy one more time are rapidly disappearing, as he looks badass as Indy in this image, from MTV.

Friday, February 1, 2008

MORE Indy!

This time featuring Cate Blanchett brandishing a sword and pointing the business end at Indy's throat. He's rarely been in a sexier predicament! I dunno about you, but this is shaping up to be something DAMN exciting. Roll on February 14th when we finally get what we haven't seen in nineteen years... a brand new bit of Indiana Jones footage... (discounting the somewhat dodgy Young Indiana Jones Chronicles)