Coming soon...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Trailer for The Wrestler

The new film from Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler, comes out in January. The Wrestler is Aronofsky's follow-up to 2006's much-maligned, and very misunderstood film, The Fountain and stars Mickey Rourke in a role he seems to have been born to play.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Henry Selick and Neil Gaiman bring us Coraline

Henry Selick, the stop-motion maestro behind The Nightmare Before Christmas, and the animated segments of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and fantasy legend Neil Gaiman next year bring Coraline to the big screen. The film, an animated fantasy sees the titular character move to a house that contains a door to an alternate version of her own life. Selick left production on Wes Anderson's adaptation of The Fantastic Mr. Fox to do this, so hopefully it'll be well worth it. Looks promising!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

W. (2008) - Oliver Stone

History was made in the last month for two reasons. The first saw the election of the first black man to the seat of President of the United States. The other reason was the beginning of the end of George W. Bush’s tenure as president. He remains the most controversial president since Nixon and arguably one of the worst presidents in US history. But this isn’t a political discussion. It’s a review of Oliver Stone’s biopic of the man, W.

W. is released at a strange time. It’s too far into the Bush’s last term to have any impact on his legacy. And it’s too soon to fully judge Bush’s impact. However, the film attempts to understand Bush’s motivations by looking at some of the key moments in his life that made him the man he is now. Starting while Bush is in college, we trace his life, through the many jobs he held until he became governor of Texas, helped get his father, George H.W. Bush elected as President of the United States and then W.’s own election to the same office.

It’d be very easy to label George W. Bush as an idiot and fool who was, and is a front for big oil and similar shady interests. And while I’m sure that’s not entirely inaccurate, there’s no denying that it takes some brains to get to be president. It doesn’t just happen. And despite these assumptions that a lot of people have about Bush, Stone’s film is somewhat gentle on the guy. The easy thing would have been to make a complete farcical comedy about Bush. There’s enough footage of Bush gaffing to make a pretty funny comedy that is steeped in reality. But Oliver Stone instead looks at Bush as a man who’s constantly living in the shadow of his father. It’s somewhere he despises being. He wants to out-do his father while making his individual mark on the world. And in an attempt at being fair to Bush, you can’t help feeling that there’s also something missing from the film.

The performances are pretty good for the most part. Josh Brolin is excellent as George W. Bush. Stone’s film creates a Bush with a lot of charisma, and Brolin carries this across very well. It’s difficult to watch a film like this without seeing some of the performances as charicatures. And is some cases, this is true. Thandie Newton’s Condaleeza Rice does seem like it stepped out of a Saturday Night Live sketch. Yet in other cases, particularly Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Chaney and James Cromwell as George H.W. Bush, the performances are spot on. But over-all, the performances are generally pretty entertaining.

There are some funny moments in W. A few of the famous Bush-isms are featured, although they are shifted in context to fit in with the drama of the film. One particularly outstanding scene is set in the ‘war room’ where Bush and his cabinet discuss the strategy of Iraq before the conflict begins. It’s like a cross between high-drama and Dr. Strangelove-esqe satire. As a document and comment of Bush’s time as President of the United States, Stone’s Bush isn’t that type of film. Subjects like that are more suited to documentary. But as a character drama, W. is quite entertaining. It does, however, feel unfinished. Had the film been made five, or even a year from now, I’d imagine it would have been quite different in many ways.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Serkis, McKellan, Weaving... and Jones? for The Hobbit

In the interview below, Guillermo Del Toro talks about the current status of The Hobbit. Still in the writing stage, there's not much to report. But the little snippet of good news is, Ian McKellan, Andy Serkis and Hugo Weaving will be returning as Gandalf, Gollum and Elrond, respectively. As for Del Toro regular, Doug Jones... there's no word on who he'll play, or if he'll be involved in the production at all. But Del Toro just loves this guy's work, so I'm sure he'll find something for the lithe actor to do.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Six badass new Watchmen posters

Character posters. Badass. Fox may be trying to put the dampers on the release of Watchmen, but they wont succeed, me thinks. It's coming, and it's going to be mind-blowing... we hope.

New Spock/Kirk posters

Not much to say about this really. They're pretty self-explanatory. Spock. Kirk. Posters. Now give us a decent trailer, please...

Monday, November 3, 2008

QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008) - Marc Forster

The reinvented James Bond franchise kicked off in 2006 with Casino Royale. It featured a brand new Bond with Daniel Craig and a brand new approach to the character and action. Gone were the gadgets. Gone was the campiness. Gone was the high-tech, slightly ridiculous approach to the character and stories. What we got was a Bond for the 21st Century. Angry, no-nonsense, ruthless. It was an approach not all were convinced about. But the film was a success, both critically and financially. And now, the latest Bond film, a direct sequel to Casino Royale arrives on our screens with (the cryptically titled) Quantum Of Solace. Can lightning strike twice?

As mentioned, Quantum Of Solace is a direct sequel to Casino Royale. It picks up pretty soon after the previous film’s events. Bond has kidnapped Mr. White, the only lead he has to the shadowy corporation whom La Chiffre was a member. His interrogation of Mr. White goes horribly wrong and an attempt on M’s life is foiled. Bond goes rogue. He claims to be hunting down M’s attempted assassins, but his motives are questionable as he’s also out for revenge for the death of Vesper Lynd, his lover who died at the end of Casino Royale. Bond’s investigation leads him to Dominic Greene, a businessman and philanthropist who’s motives are also questionable. He teams up with a woman named Camille and they both aim to take Greene down.

Casino Royale was a great success. The filmmakers seemed to get everything right, despite an ending that was a little sloppy. So where in the hell did they go wrong with Quantum Of Solace? To put it mildly, it’s a complete mess. The first problem the film has is the story. The script is dull, clunky and pretty much all over the place. They say too many cooks spoil the broth. Never is that clearer here. There are three writers credited with the writing of the film, one of whom is Paul Haggis, writer and director of the Oscar-winning Crash. Yet despite this calibre, Quantum Of Solace zips by with scenes that make no sense, motives that are pretty irrelevant and a Bond who seems to just wander from one scene to the other kicking the crap out of random bad guys and then meandering to the next story event. It seems that everything they got right with Casino Royale, they got wrong in Quantum Of Solace.

Let me get this down for the record. When Daniel Craig was announced as the Bond to follow Pierce Brosnan, questions were raised. Yet, I thought it was a great casting. And, I was right. Craig is the best Bond since Sean Connery, and he suits the reinvented Bond perfectly. And yet here, Craig is given a script that is really poor. They’ve made Bond cold and calculated. Perfect. And yet in this movie they’ve also made him someone subject to events rather than the driving force. It’s a bad move and allows the film to fall flat on it’s face.

Another question that needs to be raised is the question of the Bond girl. Vesper Lynd was a character with a little depth. Camille, the main Bond girl in Quantum Of Solace shows a little depth, but this is abandoned the more the character is developed. And she’s not developed very much. The character ticks two boxes; hot, and pissed off. But apart from that, she’s not got very much. It’s not Olga Kurylenko’s fault. She’s not bad as Camille. But there’s little for her to do in terms of character. And the less said about Gemma Arterton’s character, Strawberry Fields (good Lord), the better. She’s a bad leftover from the Roger Moore era Bond films, and is one of the most pointless and badly written characters in any movie I’ve seen in a long time. Her costume in her opening scene alone is evidence that the writers, and director Marc Forster have lost everything that worked in Casino Royale.

The other glaring fault in Quantum Of Solace is the action sequences. And man alive, this is where I get a little irate about the film. If I wanted to watch one of the Bourne films, I would have plucked one of the DVDs from my collection and not wasted the money I spent on this film. I wonder, if Paul Greengrass watched Quantum Of Solace, did he consider suing the makers of the film for plagiarism. Several action sequences are lifted straight out of the Bourne films. It was obvious from Casino Royale that the filmmakers were influenced by the Bourne films. They did, after all, reinvent the action movie for the new century. But here, Marc Forster et al make no attempt to hide the influence. If you’ve seen the Bourne films, don’t waste your time with Quantum Of Solace. The action sequences, for the most part, are lifted directly from that series. It’s actually quite amazing how similar they are. Marc Forster is a drama director. He did well with Monster’s Ball, and managed to reduce myself and a bunch of other lads to sobbing messes with Finding Neverland. So maybe it’s that he’s not used to directing action. But there is a marked difference to when he’s directing the action and when second unit director, and stunt coordinator on The Bourn Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, Dan Bradley is behind the camera. One style is sloppy and confusing. The other style is, well... Bourne. Bradley does a great job. But we’ve seen it before.

When it comes down to it, Quantum Of Solace is a mess. There’s no other way about it. The lessons learned from Casino Royale are forgotten here. And what we’re left with is a sloppy, badly-developed and underwhelming film. There is a question as to whether this movie will stand as the bad, middle part of a trilogy. But that’s little in the way of an excuse. Many sequels and bridging films have been excellent, and stand-alone films. However, when, in about 5 years, we have the (possible) Craig-Bond trilogy, I think most will skip the mess that is Quantum Of Solace.