Coming soon...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

And a Wild trailer

Having released the poster for Where The Wild Things Are, the trailer for the film has subsequently been released. And man, does it look spectacular. Spike Jonze is one of the most interesting directors working, and his visual style is absolutely unique. Will he do justice to the source material? Judge for yourself...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Wild Things are here...

The first poster for Spike Jonze's new film, Where The Wild Things Are has been released. The film is an adaptation of the book by Maurice Sendak which tells the tale of a little boy and his imaginary monster friends. The production has seen it's share of problems. But it finally hits the screens this year. And being directed by Jonze, should be pretty spectacular.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

William Friedkin on the Oscars

William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist, The French Connection and Bug, sums up exactly what the Oscars are.

His basic message? They're not worth a thing. Well said.

Monday, March 9, 2009

WATCHMEN (2009) - Zack Snyder

In 1986, writer Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons unleashed Watchmen upon the world. It would change the face of comic books and become the first comic that was hailed by the literary world. Since that time the idea to adapt the book into a film has been bandied about Hollywood. Directors such as Terry Gilliam, Darren Aaronofsky and Paul Greengrass were all attached to direct at different points. The project was considered unfilmable. But two years ago Zack Snyder, fresh off 300, decided to give it a shot.

Watchmen is a deconstruction of the superhero concept. In an alternate version of US history, superheroes emerge in the 1940’s, fighting crime in the US. The superhero phenomenon continues into the 1970’s when the government, led by Richard Nixon, outlaws masked vigilantes. In 1984, a former superhero, The Comedian, is murdered by an unknown assailant. Rorschach, a former colleague of The Comedian’s, and still operating covertly, takes it upon himself to solve the case. But his investigation reveals a plot to eliminate all former Watchmen. Meanwhile, the US edges closer and closer to a nuclear war with the USSR. And only Dr. Manhattan, the only superhero with superhuman powers can stop nuclear Armageddon.

Watchmen has been the holy grail of adaptations for comic book fans. The community was split as to whether the book could be successfully adapted into a film. It is an incredibly dense work and the thought was that there is no way such a convoluted story could be boiled down into a 2 and a half hour film. And... those who said it couldn’t be filmed... were right. Watchmen is a heroic failure. There are elements of greatness in it. But overall, the flaws are too apparent and take away from what could have been the ultimate comic book movie.

To be fair to those behind the cameras, their job of bringing Watchmen to the big screen was monumental. As I’ve said, the book is incredibly dense. It reads more like a novel than a comic book. And a novel that is thick with plot, exposition and character development. The story unravels at a very measured pace, and this is lost in Zack Snyder’s adaptation. The film seems to strip the story of it’s very essence and delivers version of the story that seems to have missed the point. Snyder does attempt to cover all bases, and I think this is where things become unstuck. He does a good job of delivering the back story to Doctor Manhattan. And his adaptation of the Rorschach is the strongest part of the film. Largely thanks to a brilliant performance from Jackie Earle Haley. But the story isn’t just exposition. There is a plot. And while this plot works in the confines of the book, it is just lost on film.

But the structure and plot development aren’t the only slip-ups in the film. While Jackie Earle Haley really excels as Walter Kovaks/Rorschach, and Billy Crudup is great as Doctor Manhattan (for a guy who’s essentially a CGI creation for the majority of the film), the rest of the cast falls rather flat. There is little chemistry between Patrick Wilson, playing Nite Owl II and Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre. And this is a huge problem, as their story is integral to the dissection of the superhero mythos. And Matthew Goode, who plays Ozymandias, is terrible. He mumbles all his lines and floats about like a prat. Some of the make-up effects also seem pretty poor for such a high-budget film.

One of the surprising things about the film is that it’s gratuitously violent. I understand that this is to jazz proceedings up a little. The source material is very character driven and not thick on the action. But it’s window-dressing and does little but distract from the flaws. It’s a shame really. The story really is brilliant. And, as mentioned by a friend of mine, would have made for a really excellent mini-series. But as it is, two and a half hours just isn’t enough time to fit all the complexities of the story into one film. It’s a fundamental flaw and cannot be overlooked. To leave out elements of the story just makes everything seem rushed and stripped of it’s brilliance. Snyder does his best. And when he gets it right, he really does nail it. But unfortunately, these moments are rare. Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach is definitely the highlight and makes you long for the film to focus on him. But alas, it’s not to be. And with an edit that is 40 minutes longer, you just don’t imagine that the film can get any stronger. A failure. But an admirable attempt.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Oooh, shiney!

The final trailer for X-Men Origins: Wolverine has been released. A lot of derision has come from the webz over this film. Personally, I like the look of it. It features the most interesting Marvel Comics character (way more interesting than Spiderman, Jamie) and looks to have lots of jumping, shouting and 'splosions.
Of course, this may all add up to a stinkfest, but Hugh Jackman is one of the most watchable actors working, and Wolverine is a character he's made his own. So really, I don't think there's that much to be worried about...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Conflicting reports hurt my brain.

There have been some very mixed reports about Terminator Salvation and the over-all quality of the new film. The on-set shenannigans, spy reports and the fact that McG hasn't really proven to be a top-quality director (or even a good helmsman as the leaked Christian Bale rant proved) makes the film sound like a disaster.

And then they release this trailer. Which looks spectacular.

I dunno what to think. Which is a good thing. Judgment should and will be reserved until I actually see the film.

*All credit goes to Aidan Power for the heads up!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

GRAN TORINO (2008) - Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood is the epitome of Hollywood legend. As an actor, Eastwood, in his fifty four years of working in the industry has become synonymous with the tough guy demeanor. As a director, Eastwood’s unfussy approach to direction has made him a director who knows how to get the best out of his actors. In Gran Torino, Eastwood takes on the dual role of actor and director, something he has done in films such as Heartbreak Ridge and Unforgiven.

Walt Kowalski is a retired Ford motor company employee and veteran of the Korean war. He has spent the majority of his life living in the same house in the suburbs of Michigan. Over the years he has seen the neighbourhood change with the arrival of more and more Hmong people. This is something that causes Kowalski irritation, as he is somewhat of a racist. When Walt steps in on a violent situation and saves his teenage Hmong neighbour (in actuality, Walt steps in just to save his lawn), he finds himself exalted as a hero in the Hmong community. Walt is then forced to deal with the unwanted attention his new celebrity brings him.

There’s two types of people in the world. Those who love Clint. And those who don’t. For those who do, this film is like a glorious epilogue for Eastwood’s career. For those who aren’t Clint fans, this film should turn them. Eastwood’s performance is just fantastic. He a grumpy, seething malcontent. And while that doesn’t sound like something to be entertained by, Eastwood is just so good in the role that it’s impossible not to enjoy the film. Racism aside, it’s easy to imagine Walt Kowalski as a retired Harry Callaghan. Eastwood has stated that Gran Torino will be his last film as an actor. While this is a sad thing to hear, it’s great that Eastwood went out with such a bang. Walt Kowalski is a no-nonsense, shit-kicking badass. And enormously entertaining to watch.

Where the film does fall slightly, it is with the support cast. To be fair, the Hmong actors are all first-timers, hand picked from the community for the roles. While their inexperience certainly shows next to Clint, they do a good enough job not to distract from the film. It’s a minor complaint. But Eastwood’s performance more than makes up for it. The script isn’t flawless. Some of the character arcs are a little questionable. Kowalski’s transition from racist to non-racist happens rather quickly. But aside from that, there’s not much to complain about. Eastwood manages to inject quite a bit of humour into the role that could otherwise be quite unlikable. With his trousers hitched up over his belly and a permanent scowl on his face, Kowalski manages to have elements of many of Clint’s iconic roles, while still being independent of these.

For the film that marks the end of Clint Eastwood’s acting career, Gran Torino is a great swansong. As a film by itself, it’s very entertaining, and questionably overlooked in favour of the more dour and serious Changeling. But it’s a film that surprises you in how entertaining it is. And at 78, Clint’s still got it and looks as badass as ever.