Maybe Oliver Stone's George W. Bush biopic, "W" will be a comedy! This might explain why Lionsgate is deciding to release the film on October 17 - just three weeks before the November 4 elections even though not an inch of film has been shot yet.
Filming begins May 12, which basically gives them five months to shoot, edit and finish the film in time for mid-October. Uhh, rush much? And casting for the remaining members of Bush's collusion cabinet haven't even been announced yet!
There's basically three options here: 1) The most obvious one: the deadline is missed and the film has to come out in say, January '09 around inaguration time. It seems impossible that they will hit this date. 2) It's a full-blown comedy, it's shot in long, masters and it's easy to edit and piece together. Danny Elfman does the score. 3) It's the serious drama we're all frightened it might be and it's Oliver Stone, so it's just another one of the hackneyed jobs he's done in the last decade or so. Man, we can't wait for October.
Most telling? Lionsgate's bread and butter is shit like the "Saw" series and other schlocky, pump-'em-out horror films made for the specific purpose of generating money. It's not like there's a lot of quality control or Oscar nominations over at the studio. Prepare for a glorious trainwreck.
Maybe Oliver Stone's George W. Bush biopic, "W" will be a comedy! This might explain why Lionsgate is deciding to release the film on October 17 - just three weeks before the November 4 elections even though not an inch of film has been shot yet.
God, writing about this movie is like fishing with dynamite in a pond, but we can't help it, it's so much fun. So we wrote about visual magician Tarsem (he sort of strikes us as the David Blane of film directors) and his fanciful, ridiculously-looking new film, "The Fall," in a piece titled,"Ridiculous 'Plot' Of Tarsem
Singh's New 'The Fall' Allows Filmmaker To Honor Commitment To Making Pretentious-Looking Twaddle, and we really feel that that says it all (but that won't stop us from prattling on).
Don't let the fact that the film is "presented by David Fincher and Spike Jonze," fool you. This isn't going to be "cool and edgy," it's going to be like the "Neverending Story" only with straight-faced adults in tights, sweaty, homoerotic slaves and magic, tons and tons of fabulous, illogical magic.
Reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes are inexplicably mixed (56% we would assume people would laugh the film out the door). Variety loathes is ("This convoluted, arbitrary, overlong whimsy will strike most grown-ups as childish, and is far too violent and pretentious for kids. " Dennis Harvey writes).
Our buddy, MTV's Kurt Loder describes it as a wet fart or "two hours of high-end perfume commercials," and the New York Post cracks us the fuck up with this bonne mot: "It's basically a Middle Eastern version of "The Princess Bride" with an assisted-suicide subplot, " lol.
Our unfair, pre-judging preview said, "it's kind of a capricious bonding fairy tale/adventure story with lots of faggy-looking costumes, arrows being dodged, elephants swimming in oceans, lithe slaves carrying royalty, monkeys (monkeys are always a must) and other elements of [utter nonsense]. The film stars... well, nobody really, and essentially looks like a collection of pretentious, Salvador Dali-looking surrealist tableaux's and eye-candy for color-correction lab nerds."
To be fair, Glen Kenny kinda loved it, but he just got fired so what the fuck does he know (too soon! his new blog lies here)? "The Fall is a movie whose every frame pulsates with the desire to be a transportive, transcendent work of cinema. And each one of said frames is full of visual bedazzlement and wonder," he gushed.
We didn't bother try seeking a screening and we can't in good conscience pay to see this thing. Best of luck if you venture into theaters this weekend, all three of you.
Desperate For Audiences, WB Puts Up The First Seven Minutes Of 'Speed Racer' In Hopes Of Convincing People It's Not A Total Kaleidoscopic Failure
Strap into your seats tightly, put some protective UV sunglasses on and keep a barf bag handy. Oh yeah, and remember the rules of gravity and logic no longer apply when entering this "Speed Racer" zone. Many people are already claiming, "hey, this is pretty good! Not bad, seems like fun!" These are people we don't want to know.
Grand Theft Auto IV Also Has Music For Those Quiet, Sunset-Filled Introspective Times When You're Tired Of Jacking Innocent Civilians
A lot has been said about Grand Theft Auto IV since it was released last week; more than we could ever hope to bring to the table. It has something for everyone. No, seriously, everyone.
We were noticing some of the incredible radio stations programmed for the game (over 200 tracks, it's wild, the music supervisor is now officially a god in that world, there's many a choice cut) and we noticed that there was even an ambient/chill-out channel called, "The Journey" filled with many an avante composer.
At first, we were like, "wtf?!?" But then, hey, even we've played the game and we get it based on our experiences. It's like this: it's 5 a.m., you're in your underwear, you've bleary eyed and have to get up in two hours for work, you've been playing since 7 p.m. the day previous and you're having a moment.
You've just fucking murdered the shit out of over 200 people in the last 10-or-so hours. You've blown up a grandmother with a hand grenade, you beat some brat to death with a baseball bat and watched his skull jizz hit your crispy white sneaks; you've yelled incredibly base racial epithets at dyslexic children and stolen over 75 cars which you proceeded to trash for no apparent reason.
After all that carnage and mayhem? We get it. Sometimes you just want to walk around the city, enjoy a beautiful sunset and pour one out with a lone tear streaming down your face to the contrite moment-of-clarity thought, "What the hell have I done?" A song for everything. Genius, programming.
DJ: A computer
Global Communication - "8:07"
Terry Riley - "A Rainbow in Curved Air"
Steve Roach - "Arrival"
Michael Shrieve - "Communique 'Approach Spiral'"
Jean Michel Jarre - "Oxygène, Pt 4"
Philip Glass - "Pruit Igoe"
Tangerine Dream - "Remote Viewing"
Aphex Twin - "Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2 CD2 (Z-Twig'')"
Ray Lynch - "The Oh of Pleasure"
Hell, maybe even Tom Cruise will pick this one up since he's such a TD fan.
Listen: Tangerine Dream - "Remote Viewing"
Poor Uwe Boll. You gotta feel for him a little bit. The hack video game director has been under so much fire this year for making insipidly mediocre movies that even movie geeks who normally adore garbage like "Hostel," "Transformers" and dreck like that detest his work and have basically called for his death (cinematic or otherwise) in the form of various and numerous online petitions.
Boll's fought back in his grating, Germanic-way and he certainly doesn't make it easier on himself and just irks the fanboys all the more (we're still haven't ascertained if he's the world's greatest deadpan comedian or what).
So there was that petition that asked for Boll to retire for good. Boll said he'd pack it all in only if 1 million signatures were signed (last time we checked it was at like 250k) so to add to all the contempt and bile and fuel this fire chewing gum company Stride (who?) announced that they would give away 1 million packs of free gum if the million signature goal is met.
That's a lot of gum. The caveat? The million mark must be met by May 14 (maybe Stride is having some second quarter business issues we don't know about). Nice little gimmick to capitalize on we suppose, but poor Boll, even gum companies we've never heard of are picking on the poor loser. We suppose this does give a little unintentional promotion to Boll's un-PC comedy, "Postal," which comes out mid May.
All we know is that Boll is gonna be pissed, when he hears that Gore Verbinski is biting his steez and just got hired to direct the video-game adaptation, "Bioshock." This may mean war, people.
Those of us with a realistic outlook and clear-headed sense of taste can safely assume that the cult-classic "Donnie Darko," about the retarded kid with the pet rabbit who tells him to murder people (kinda like "Harvey" for emo teens), was a huge one-off fluke.
Have you seen the director, Richard Kelly's hilariously preposterous "Southland Tales," cause if you have, you know exactly what we're talking about.
Moreover if you've seen the "director's cut" of Donnie Darko, which basically ruins the allure behind the movie, reveals too much and basically pulls back the curtain - kinda like Lucas did with the fuckin midichlorians - you know precisely what we mean. Even Kelly is fully aware how much he fucked up with 'Southland,' given his next project.
Anywhoo, this is all preamble to say, "Donnie Darko 2," wtf? However, hold the phone, Kelly is not involved and some other hack is taking over (good, that would have been the siren call of desperation if he had helmed).
Apparently the story "picks up seven years after the death of Donnie, with youngest Darko Samantha, now 18, and her best friend Corey being plagued by bizarre visions while on a roadtrip to Los Angeles." The only person reprising their role in the film will be Daveigh Chase (the aforementioned Samantha, their really wouldn't be a film without her).
The whole concept screams of utterly unnecessary and therefore we question the filmmakers commitment to sparkle motion, forget it.
Hip-hop mogul and unintentionally hilarious YouTube clip making satirist Sean Diddy Combs is claiming the actors on the set of "Notorious," the currently filming biopic of slain Brooklyn rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (born Christopher Wallace) are doing eerie and spot-on impressions of the real-life people they're portraying.
"Gravy, the guy playing B.I.G., it was just too eerie for me to be on that," Combs told MTV. "Gravy's killing it. If I tell you he's killing it, then that's all we need to say, you know what I'm saying? I don't think anybody could have done a better job."
"People asked me years ago who you'd want to play me, and I said Derek Luke ... so it was just destined. I got to see him do his thing, and it was scary for me. I had to leave, 'cause he was acting just like me."
Keep in mind, Diddy is E'd out a lot and not really there half the time, so everything he always says is pretty much suspect.
In other news of black musicians now in films (wow, classy segue), Cedric The Entertainer is assuring anyone who will listen (those skeptical people?), that Beyonce is also killing it on the set of "Cadillac Records" as Etta James.
“I mean, Beyonce’s just dope anyway, but you’ll be surprised by the little subtleties she’s brought to this character to make it pop,” Cedric also told MTV. “Plus, it’s a period piece, so it feels a little bit back in time. She was able to be amazing in this character, with this subtle love affair with the Adrien Brody character.”
There's was a few significant blows dealt to the indie movie world today. Warner Bros shut down WIP (Warner Independent Pictures) and their other specialty indie tentacle Picturehouse. WIP's last film was the now-ironically titled sadist indulgence "Funny Games" and before that was "Snow Angels." The company is still expected to put out Alan Ball's pedo-suburbia-race film "Towelhead," later this summer (August 8). Picturehouse was most recently known for their success with "La Vie En Rose," "Pan's Labyrinth" and they are expected to release a few more films before the year is out (or at least the larger WB will presumably).
Variety called the decision to shutter the operations ones that "reflects the massive pressures to cut costs" and noted that more than 70 jobs would be eliminated.
On the other side of the coin, estimable film critic Glen Kenny used his occasionally too-esoteric, but very fine movies blog to announce that his position at Premiere.com had been terminated. (Premiere of course was once a movies magazine, but the dwindling magazine age closed them down to exist on the web only).
New Line shutters earlier this year, now WIP and Picturehouse. The Village Voice laid off a solid film critic and now Glen Kenny is gone? High school students, pay attention: go to law school. Don't start a blog and certainly not a movies blog with a focus on music.
"The Tracey Fragments" is going to be polarizing in the blogosphere, we can feel it. Not so much for the splintered film techniques (more on that later), but more because of hot-button topic actress Ellen Page whose role in "Juno," seemed to provoke a lot of ire of many a blogger and armchair critic who evidently hates teen girls that deign to speak in pop-cultural tones.
No Diablo Cody isn't with her this time, but instead of playing a 17-18 year old smarmy kid, Page now plays a melodramatic 15 year old with a sarcastic streak - just not as pronounced and not as obnoxiously clever (it's a different role, not in a different universe, mind you, but knee-jerk reactions claiming the two characters/performances are the same are sure to come).
Page plays Tracey Berkowitz who comes from a broken home and we quickly learn that her little autistic-like brother has gone missing. Her neglectful parents play the blame game and the story then jumps around in time to illustrate her misfit status at school, running away from home in search of her brother, pining for the elusive, aloof cute hipster boy, and going to see her clueless transgendered shrink (who is some nice comic relief).
But the biggest story about 'Tracey' is its incredibly and purposefully fragmented presentation. Directed by Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald - once the toast of Canada and without nary at hit in years -, nearly the entire film is shot in a jarring Mondrian-like multiple split screens intended to convey the protagonist's young fragile psyche. Two cameras were running during most of the film and multiple takes of the same scene are often running out of synch with one another while memories, other sequences, and metaphorical tableauxs play out in other frames simultaneously.
Its not as obnoxious as it sounds, but the technique can be both effective and grating at times and will likely make or break the film for audiences. The performances are strong, the visuals are striking and romantic, the music (Broken Social Scene) is typically evocative yet subtle, and in spite of the dark premise, it's a lot more funny and playful than it ought to be (there's a rock n' roll-like trailer in the middle of the film that introduces Tracey's uncontrollable teen crush which is pretty great). It also boasts one of the most painful "sex" scenes to watch that we've seen in a while that is simultaneously beautiful and sad.
Overall the "fragmented" conceit works and it doesn't. Thankfully, McDonald's experimental drama only last 77 minutes so it doesn't overstay it's welcome. And while it's not completely the return to form we were hoping from this filmmaker, it is a strong indicator that he's back and willing to take creative risks at any cost. [-B]
We saw this a couple days ago and shrugged. Whatever, John Mayer, right? But then we realized it was directed by Judd Apatow and stars "Freak & Geeks" alumni Martin Starr and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" belle and new Apatow-gang member Kristen Bell.
But most of all? And we kinda knew this, but hated to admit it? For a guy who writes such terrible music, John Mayer is kind of a really funny motherfucker, dude is really self-aware and he plays a parody of himself, really, really well.
Trailer Tease: Michel Gondry's "Tokyo!" (Or More Accurately: Gondry's 'Interior Design' Short Within The Larger 'Tokyo!' Film
Remember Michel Gondry's short
"Interior Design" "Hiroko & Akira in Tokyo" about a woman who turns into a chair that's a short within the larger film "Tokyo!" (Fellow French director Leos Carax - "Pola X" - is doing the short, "Merde," and South-Korean filmmaker Joon-ho Bong is also part of the project). Well, that film has a trailer now. Here it is, well sort of, it's a cheap teaser trailer that show very little outside of the three directors working and shots of the city, but hell, it's something...(ok, it's a big fucking tease of nothing, let's face it). Yeah, it's diplaying weird, Twitch doesn't like it when you tweak the size of their clips. Whatever (via Spout).
Wait, so Robert Downey Jr. isn't already locked in to star in "Iron Man 2"? A quote in Entertainment Weekly is ambiguous with RDJ playing coy. "“I really don’t know," RDJ answered when asked if he would be in 'IM2.' "What I’m on board for right now is the ride home. I don’t want to start talking out of my league, because that would have certainly been my inclination in the past. I kind of know how to keep my teeth together a little better than I used to." Does Downey mean by, "the ride home," he's locked in for the Avengers movie? It couldn't be after Terrence Howard's character is supposed to take over cause he'd have to be part of that movie. Odd. Does he just expect more dough to sweeten the deal now that the film has been so successful? [/Film]
Matthew Vaughn is no longer attached to direct "Thor" a script and project he had been developing for months? Apparently so. Buried in a Variety article is a mention that his "holding deal," expired back in December. With Thor already set for summer 2010, Marvel better get cracking. [JoBlo]
Charles Grodin will make a cameo in Jason Segel’s upcoming Muppet Movie (which is probably a year or two off at this point). Grodin is genius and always has been (yes, even in the "Beethoven" dog movies), so this is amazing news. It's nice to see someone appreciate the actor who popped up in many of the Muppet movies. [MTV]
Tom Hanks has officially endorsed Barack Obama. Does this mean, we're fucked now?
Neil Young hearst Blu-Ray. The aging rocker loves it so much he's planning on releasing his entire music archive on Blu-ray discs. [DailySwarm]
Wow, feast your eyes on that, huh?
JustJared has a first look of this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly which has snagged the first photos of Oliver Stone's George W. Bush biopic"W."
Yes, that's Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Banks as George and Laura Bush? Are you feeling a delirious mix of horror, repulsion and giddy, train-wreck anticipation?
Yeah, we feel dizzy too. Don't forget in the original script, which may or may not have changed by now, Dubya calls his oily advisor Karl Rove a "turd blossom" on page one.
Amazing, right? Don't forget we gave our helpful suggestions as to who should play Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of the unannounced cast members to portray Bush's cabal.
The EW story is up. In it, Stone denies that Robert Duvall turned down Cheney and refused to comment on reports that he's talking to Paul Giamatti about the part.
A lot of people are wondering how fast and loose Stone will play with his Bush biopic, but he doesn't really care. ''I'm tired of defending the accuracy of my movies,'' he said. ''I'm past that now. JFK was a case to be proven, Nixon was a penetrating biography of a complex and dark man. But I'm not bound by those strictures anymore."
Still, people have problems with the script. The author of "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush, Robert Draper is one of those people. ''My quarrel with the script isn't that it departed from factual reality here and there, but that it just misses the guy,'' he said. ''You come away with an even more hyperbolized caricature of Bush the Cowboy President than is already out there.''
Dude, it is Oliver Stone, afterall. We kinda can't wait.
So earlier this year Miley Cyrus made like a trillion dollars with her 3D concert film, right? And yes, the bohunky teens of the Jonas Brothers appeared in "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour."
Posted by Rodrigo Perez at 8:27 AM
Guy Maddin must be OCD. The distinctively arcane Canadian filmmaker has been obsessed with wintry, snowglobe aesthetics, eroticized adolescent Freudian examination and '50s like paranoiac melodrama almost since his career began.
Thematically, when not examining the secret life of ice nymphs, one legged beer baronesses and German expressionism-esque hospitals gone awry, the Great White Northern director has been singularly fixated on his imagined dysfunctional family and the winter wonderland of his Manitoba landscape of birth.
So when asked to make a documentary of his Winnipeg hometown – essentially a propaganda assignment – the filmmaker took the opportunity to look at the city through both his phantasmagorical and autobiographical lens for the appropriately titled "My Winnipeg."
Dubbed a "docu-fantasia," Maddin's fabulist remembrance of Winnipeg is both nostalgic and slightly scornful. The doc begins with the director narrating escape route possibilities on a train from the winter torn city and then vacillates between the fantasized, always sexually-charged childhood and an imagined civic guide through the secret dark alleys and shadowy backdoor cabals that may or may not have happened in the fair city.
Whether there were ectoplasmic seances once in city hall; if a staged Nazi takeover during WWII to scare the citizens of "What If" day actually happened, or whether the Masons built secret code in to the architechtural fabric is fact is completely besides the point - Maddin's distinct take on Winnipeg is purposefully built to construct both allure and myth.
The unique filmmaker is constantly at play; using the film as both aversion therapy and a place to reimagine the past. He rents out his old childhood home to simulate actual painful events of his upbringing
and claims to coax his mother out of acting retirement to play herself when in actuality its a 1940s B-movie actress portraying his moms. His siblings are also played by actors that he says have uncanny resemblance to his family and his oedipal complex is again on display (he hilariously describes the “gynocracy” of the female-infested hair salon that his mother ran growing up).
All the while the film runs on a feverishly drunk, dream-like rhythm that is hypnotic and metaphorically in step with the going-nowhere train his stand-in is riding - you would fall dead alseep if it weren't so utterly fascinating. Dreams are another infatuated motif. At one point he claims that "Winnipeg has 10 times the sleepwalking rate of any other city in the world," which is obviously meant metaphorically.
In a brief, anachronistic and rare showing of modern day politics, Maddin breaks the fourth wall by showing recent color-footage of various Winnipeg touchstones being demolished - his scorn for the short-sighted bureaucrats that run the city clearly strong enough for him to include this bold deviation.
The autobiographical love/hate affair Maddin has with his provincial city (and therefore childhood) is crystalline. He's constanly trying to leave, yet he's obsessed with revisiting the past which essentially echoes the filmmakers real-life conundrums (he still lives there while Canada expected him to leave to Toronto ages ago). Elements of Winnipeg are beloved to the cineaste, but change and disrespect for its glory days are plainly met with disdain.
"My Winnipeg" is as much an examination of personal psychological paralysis as it is a heartfelt tour of his hometown's history, both literally and figuratively.
You don't need to know jack or care about the town of Winnipeg to enjoy the film. You just simply have to have an appreciation of Maddin's quintessentially esoteric perspective on the world. Maddin is routinely called the David Lynch of Canada, but at this point, that's more of a disservice to his unparalleled artistry. What's worse is he's a national treasure that's basically unobserved. Easily the best film we saw at the recent Tribeca Film Festival. Someone hook us up an interview with Maddin, stat. [A]
'Winnipeg' won the award for Best Canadian feature film at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. For more Guy Maddin see our coverage of his amazing psychodrama "Brand! Upon The Brain!," which was performed live and narrarated by fans of the filmmaker like Lou Reed, Crispin Glover and Laurie Anderson.
We don't have a lot to add. We haaaate Rainn Wilson. Dude is an insufferable one-trick-pony who does the same bit over and over again (see "The Office," "My Super Ex-Girlfriend," and "Juno" which he almost help ruin). "The Rocker" stars Rainn Wilson and Christina Applegate, but curiously enough she's hardly (or not even in?) this trailer.
Remember the endearing "School of Rock"? If that was PG-13 audiences. This is one is for, uhhh... PG 15 ones (slightly older kids) and stoners that will laugh at fucking anything. Ok, we'll admit, there's some marginally funny bits in the trailer, but Wilson will surely ruin the movie with his tired shtick. On the plus side it does feature cute Emma Stone from "Superbad," but keep in mind: this film was completed ages ago. The official site for this thing (which still reads "coming spring 2008!") was up at least six months ago, which means it had a release date long ago, a site was prepped and the date got pushed - which is never a good sign (we featured it in our spring movie preview, cause at one point it was coming out in April - now it's fucking August!)
Oh yeah, "the plot." Rainn Wilson plays a retard, older drummer who gets one last shot at fame when he gets to play drums in a high school prom band (can you hear our eyes rolling from there?).
MTV Movie Awards Disconnect: Future-Forward With 'Superbad' Noms, Lagging In The Past With Host Mike Meyers
Now this isn't a diss at MTV. We know all too well how people paint with a wide brush with their shooting fish in a barrell ad hominem attacks on MTV ("They don't play videos!" Holy, shit, really??? Grow up, Peter Pan) But rather it's a diss on the people behind the MTV Movie Awards, which believe it or not is a separate group of people that run MTV Movies online,"The Hills," regular daily MTV programming, etc., etc., and so on and so on.
The 2008 MTV Movie Award nominations were announced and Judd Apatow's raunchy sweet teen comedy "Superbad" scored 5 nominations (Including one for McLovin' in the Best New, nice). Yay, right? Funny, smart, culturally relevant movie that should be nominated at the MTV movie awards (lets face it, they're not masterpiece theater and they know it). Everyone's happy, right?
But wait, the host is...
my grandpa Mike Meyers? Yes, he has a new movie out this summer, "The Love Guru," and the timing is perfect so we understand it from a business perspective, but relevant to the audience or cultural perception at large?
Sure, "The Love Guru," will do really well at the box-office cause it's perfect middle-of-the-road fodder for all the ham and eggers out there that drive society (stupid people that breed more stupid people). But c'mon guys, we're all aware there's this sweeping sentiment - justified or not - that MTV has become culturally irrelevant and unhip, so maybe instead of the Meyers safe as milk bet you could get someone with a little bit more edge and bite to preserve the greater good (and for the sake of fucking laughter for godsake)? God, can you imagine the inspid Doctor Evil jokes he's probably rehearsing RIGHT NOW? (feeling dizzy at the thought) Hello, Zack Galifinakis? Hello, David Cross. Wait, the world at large wouldn't tune in to see those guys. Hell, they probably have no clue who the fuck they are. Sarah Silverman was too pottymouthed, right? Weren't ratings down? Nope, but apparently they weren't up high enough.
Ah, the eternal conondrum. There's no hope is there. Mainstream culture is just fucked from now on, isn't it.
Remember the rock doc, "Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten" that played Sundance '07 and was released by IFC late last summer in the U.S.?
It's finally coming to DVD on June 24 according to Amazon and Pitchfork. Anything extra on it? Both sources don't say.
Our "review," was this: Julian Temple (the man behind The Sex Pistols doc "The Filth & The Fury") doesn't do a disservice here to his late Clash buddy Joe Strummer in the fair and balanced 'Future Is Unwritten.' The film is neither a love-letter to Strummer, nor is it the toppling of a sacred cow, but rather a reflective look back at the punk rock icon warts and all. Or as Temple describes it: "not a hero-worship film." The film features glowing testimonials with such Strummer disciples as Martin Scorsese (he says "Raging Bulls" was directly influenced by the Clash), a typically effusive Bono, a stoned Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, worst-teeth on the planet Brit John Cooper Clarke, filmmaker Don Letts, John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, Jim Jarmusch, The Sex Pistols' Steve Jones and Johnny Depp who's tribute is extremely difficult to take seriously while still in full 'Pirates' make-up and ratty goatee.
We didn't do cartwheels for it or anything, but it was decent enough and worth watching if you missed it last year (hello, Netflix queue).
What About The Voice Of Geddy Lee? Fact Checkin Cuz Tells Us It Helped Spawn 'The Tracey Fragements'
So last night we attended a screening of "The Tracey Fragments," at a Diesel event where director Bruce McDonald and Broken Social Scene-r Brendan Canning were at for a Q&A after the film (Canning's stripped down version of the Social Scene wrote the film's score; the soundtrack of which came out yesterday via ITunes).
More on the film in a review tomorrow, but the Q&A yielded some interesting tidbits: Namely that Rush's high alto wailing singer Geddy Lee might be the person to thank for the film. It was Lee who first sent McDonald the 'Fragments book as a gift and after he read it, he was inspired to make into a film.
But being that Canadian filmmakers are generally broke, the canny McDonald sent author Maureen Medved a pair as his cowboy boots as his way of saying he wanted the rights to the book. Charmed, she agreed and even penned the screenplay for the film (her first and she "wasn't precious about adapting her own material," the director said)
The movie stars Ellen Page, but anyone who thinks they scored the star to capitalize off of "Juno," would be wrong. 'Tracey' was shot way before that phenom-film hit and it was Page's performance in "Hard Candy" that impressed director - that and her love for Patti Smith.
"I was impressed that someone so young would be into her. That pretty much secured her the part," McDonald recalled of the casting meeting.
When asked how Broken Social Scene became involved in the film's score Canning was to the point. "Bruce called and we said yes" (the band and director have a friendship that dates back a few years and projects now). When asked what their scoring process was Canning said it wasn't rocket science. "We watched it, toured, gestated on it, watched it again and tried to compose for it."
He joked that people aren't exactly ringing their phone off the hook with score requests (young filmmakers take note!) "Yeah, we were up for "There Will Be Blood," it was either us or Jonny Greenwood," he joked. "We take take the offers we like, were good at bleakness so we tend to get offers in that vein."
And as for the film's talked-about experimental editing approach - a fragmented, Mondrian-like splitscreen technique that at times sometimes jarring, effective and obnoxious?
McDonald said that it was an indeed an "cubist-like" experiment to see if they could make the film stand out from other indies and to try and convey that splintered psyche of the protagonist. The author Medved fucking hated it at first. "She wouldn't take my calls. She was shocked and horrified at first," he laughed.
Like a lot of McDonald projects, the editing was rock n' roll at the end of the day t. "People add their parts, it's construction and deconstruction. It was like a rehearsal jam with lots of fucking around."
"The Tracey Fragements" opens up this Friday, May 9 in limited release. Oh yeah, McDonald told us that he's working on a horror film next. By that point, we were too drunk to ask details.
Is DC Comics Fucked Thanks To 'Iron Man's Success & Marvel's Movie Skills? Our Nerd Expert Takes A Deeper Look
In that first clip and many follow-ups, YouTube video satirist Itssomerandomguy articulates the sense that one of the two major comic book publishers, which is now known as Marvel Entertainment, has been much more successful in establishing a vigorous set of film franchises than its rival, DC Comics. By choosing Apple’s “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” ad campaign as its template, this interweb clipmaker series evokes the four decades-old perception that Marvel’s superhero characters —and the interconnected universe they inhabit— is much much cooler that of the hidebound, stodgy DC.
I’ve never been partisan along those lines, as many fans of superhero fiction have been: exclusive devotees of the former line have been referred to for years as “Marvel zombies.” But, particularly after this past weekend ("Iron Man's massive box-office success and announcement of a slew of new Marvel franchises), this dude's essential point is inarguable.
In 1969, DC Comics was acquired by the entertainment conglomerate that was known during the ‘70s as “Warner Communications” and as Time Warner Inc. by 1990. As a component of what has for 30 years been the most massive media and entertainment corporation the world has never known, DC has supervised licensed characters like Superman and Batman to the likes of underwear manufacturers, broadway shows and god knows how many other products.
So it would stand to reason that, synergistic strategies being what they are, DC would funnel these characters towards its more high-profile corporate cousin, Warner Bros. Pictures, so that big budget movies could be produced and enormous profits would be made. By the late ‘70s, film making was finally ready to do justice to the exploits of larger-than-life do gooders; longtime fans would burst into tears as their favorite burst onto the silvers screen, while the majority of filmgoers would sit back and enjoy the ride.
Beginning in 1978, with Richard Donner’s two Superman films (let’s not mention 1983’s Superman III and 1987’s Superman IV: Quest for Peace) and continuing through Tim Burton’s two Batman films (same drill for Joel Schumaker’s contributions to the franchise in the 1990s), that’s how it worked. Those two characters are as durable and as world-renowned as Mickey Mouse. In particular, Batman’s reputation was rehabilitated after Burton’s 1989 film: most folks born before 1980 knew only the deadpan goofball of the 1960s tv program, but them born afterwards know Batman as a tortured avenger of the night.
Marvel Comics, by contrast, had no comparable presence in Hollywood until 2000. While the company changed the comic book game in the 1960s with the Fantastic Four and Spider-man books and thus has been the market leader since the late ‘60s, it was passed like a bauble from one corporation that didn’t quite know what to do with it to another, culminating with ownership by junk bond magnate Ronald Perelman in 1991 and its subsequent bankruptcy in 1996.
Consequently, Marvel cinema tended towards the low-rent: tv movies like 1978’s Dr. Strange and 1998’s Hasselhoff vehicle "Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.," the direct to video likes of 1989’s The Punisher and 1991’s Captain America, and 1994’s notorious, officially unreleased, made-by-Roger-Corman only-to-secure-copyright Fantastic Four.
But 2000’s "X-Men" reversed Marvel’s fortunes overall. Produced by Fox, the film was followed in 2003 by "X2" and in 2006 by "X-Men: Last Stand": all three cleaned up at the box office. Then came Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise in 2002, followed by Ang Lee’s problematic "Hulk" and Tim Story’s officially released Fantastic Four films in 2005 and 2007. Subsequent films like 2003’s "Daredevil", 2004’s "Punisher" retread, 2005’s "Elektra," and 2007’s "Ghost Rider," may not have each immediately justified their expense, but all contributed to the perception that Marvel’s characters could be mined for boffo box office.
Each of those films, however, were produced by major studios. But "Iron Man, "which boasts the tenth best opening weekend gross of all time, is the first film in which Marvel is now going it alone (although Paramount distributed it). Now Marvel Studios is a proven Hollywood player and is proceeding with preproduction on films based on Captain America, the Mighty Thor, the Avengers and Ant-Man. Only the evidently troubled Incredible Hulk, due next month, may dim Marvel Studios’ prospects.
Meanwhile, DC and Warner Bros, successfully restarted the Batman franchise in 2005 via Christopher Nolan’s "Batman Begins" and, more than likely, this summer’s "Dark Knight". But "Superman Returns," X-Men director Bryan Singer’s 2006 love letter to Donner’s films, did not perform up to expectations. A Wonder Woman film, briefly helmed by Buffy-maven Joss Whedon, has been in development hell for more than a decade; a Justice League of America film, which would likely end up a super hero clusterfuck of the most confusing order, was quashed earlier this year after consuming the attention of seemingly every comic message board goon extant (it should be noted that DC’s properties have been successful on television, via "Smallville" and various animated programs).
Methinks DC and Warner Brothers may be in deep crisis mode, watching as their once-utterly dysfunctional competitor cleans up at the box office while their own non-Batman, non-Superman properties languish. It would seem that it’s time for Time Warner to see to it that its two subsidiaries, which have had three decades to properly synergize, get in gear and produce films that will, since the health of super-hero films seems likely to remain robust for some time, make lots and lots of money.
But here’s the thing: the physical product that since 1938 has been the core venue for super heroes has been in decline for years. The peak years for funny books were during World War II, before television, gaming, and every type of mass entertainment that emerged in between. While super-hero comic books were more or less directed at young boys for the first 25 years of their existence, it could be argued that DC and Marvel have been catering to aging and otherwise obsessive readers—them what have the inclination to absorb decades of lore regarding what device Dr. Doom used to incapacitate the Thing in issue #126— for the last 30 years.
For the past three years, DC and Marvel comic books have been enmeshed in companywide crossovers, i.e. “tentpole” events, in which nearly every book is involved in a enormous storyline where “nothing will ever be the same,” “heroes will live, heroes will die” and “the universe is in jeopardy.” A prospective reader would be daunted to understand what, in fact, the fuck is going on, and would perhaps choose to spend his or her shekels on a pursuit that would not require purchasing every single comic book put out by either company in order to follow the story. Every time a big super hero movie is released, representatives of DC and Marvel claim that said big super hero movie will drive up sales for their books. But this never comes to pass.
A few weeks ago, I attended the New York ComicCon at the Jacob Javits Center. I was expecting to encounter sweatier, more obese and less well groomed versions of myself almost exclusively. I did see a lot of guys like that, but I also saw teenage girls dressed up as relatively obscure super hero characters, and young kids were all over the damn place.
My inference is that tons of people like super-heroes, but maybe not every super-hero fan wants to bother with comic books. Perhaps, as more and more films devoted to Marvel (and DC) characters are greenlighted, we will see Marvel and DC abandoning the waning comic book business in order to adjust the meaning of what the super hero business is.
Oh yeah, another thing! If anyone reading these words has an evolved interest in DC and Marvel characters and history —which is to say, NUUUUUURRRRRDDS— perhaps you’d like to visit my highly geeky blog. It will be highly confusing to anyone who does not meet the above description; someone who does meet that description, however, could be the second person to comment therein!
Yet another thing: here's a good example of how television writers of the 1970s thought comic book material should be treated: the following is an excerpt from a superhero roast, hosted by Ed McMahon. Abandon hope, all ye who choose to watch other segments from 1978's Legends of the Super Heroes!
This post was written by our contributor and good buddy Kempy who can be found at: komikkounterparts.
It's with a little melange of obnoxious, "we told you so" crowing and smug schadenfreude that we'd like to tell you that we knew "Speed Racer" was going to shit the colorful bed come box-office time. And a new report from the Hollywood Reporter basically confirms as much.
We asked a few months ago, who the fuck would pay to see this eyeball scorching, epilepsy-inducing disaster? Who would the audience be exactly?? And we mocked the shit out of the initial trailer. It's PG-13 and it looks like a "Rainbow Bright" episode on high grade mescaline (drop off 75% of the 25-35 audience who grew up with this thing and might have any bare traces of sentimental attachment to it at all) and it looks like such a vomit pinwheel of obnoxious day-glo colors and fey camp that it would probably scare off the under 13 crowd (which leaves the unemployed, the small, small percentage of 30 year old LSD fiends and the mildly curious/sadomasochistic - i.e. nobody). Clearly the directors - the Wachoski brothers, one sibling of undetermined sex and possibly ambiguous genitalia - have over-extended themselves.
So just as we thought, the film is apparently "tracking" extremely poorly (that's the term for expected box-office projections). The film, which stars several thousand shades of magenta, is only expected to rake in a meager $25-$35 million, plus it's supposed to come in second after "Iron Man." Ruh, roh. Houston we have a problem. After all, the film cost over $100 million to make.
Does Speed Racer even have a hope at the #1 box-office spot?
"It's too early to tell," Warners domestic distribution president Dan Fellman said. "But this is the first real family movie of the summer, and we're going to give it our best."
Translation?: "We're fucked. I've already updated my resume and sent it around West Hollywood."
New York magazine's David Edelstein hilariously calls it "a nightmare in which you're trapped in an arcade with screens on all sides and no eyelids." In fact, all the reviews are amusing. The Village Voice's J. Hoberman, who is generally even-handed and staid, describes it as, "Gaudier than a Hindu-temple roof, louder than the Las Vegas night, Speed Racer is a cathedral of glitz." Most comedic is the New Yorker's Anthony Lane who basically says the film is lower than dirt. "Though the film is not as criminally poor as "V for Vendetta," which the Wachowskis wrote in 2005, it struck me as more insidious."
Ooof! Well, we told you so!
Oh and this quote spotted at Vulture is priceless. "In the cartoon, [Speed] talks really, really, really fast, and he says the same thing over and over. He'll be like, 'I wanna go on a race, because then I can win!' And then he'll say, 'When I win, I'll have won the race!' We couldn't do that for the movie." — In answering this question, it dawns on Emile Hirsch that maybe starring in the already-originally-thin "Speed Racer" adaptation wasn't the greatest idea on earth. [MTV]
Vice/VBS.TV's documentary "Heavy Metal In Baghdad," about the travails of the only metal band from Iraq, Acrassicauda, is getting a limited theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles come May 23 for one quick week.
The DVD has already been set for a June 10 release.
The film was well-received at many a film festival including the Toronto Film Festival in 2007 and the Berlin and Sundance Film Festivals earlier this year.
Directed by Canadians, Vice founder Suroosh Alvi and VBS.TV founder Eddy Moretti, the film follows the one metal band in war-torn Iraq and the extreme difficulties they faced by just trying to play heavy-metal in a Muslim country, let alone putting on concerts and shows.
Their practice space blows up, some of their members flee for Syria and this poor band struggles in every way imaginable (actually we don't know what it's like to live in fucked-up country like that so we can't even imagine).
Heavy Metal in Baghdad is a feature film documentary that follows the Iraqi heavy metal band Acrassicauda from the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 to the present day. Playing heavy metal in a Muslim country has always been a difficult (if not impossible) proposition but after Saddam’s regime was toppled, there was a brief moment for the band in which real freedom seemed possible. That hope was quickly dashed as their country fell into a bloody insurgency. From 2003-2006, Iraq disintegrated around them while Acrassicauda struggled to stay together and stay alive, always refusing to let their heavy metal dreams die. Their story echoes the unspoken hopes of an entire generation of young Iraqis.Can we be honest (even though this thing was made from friends of friends?) The execution of this thing is rather amateurish and pedestrian, but the story is engaging and you definitely find yourself rooting for the band. However, it feels more like a full-blown version of a VBS.TV episode rather than a documentary worthy of hitting theaters (and maybe that's indicative of the small run). Hey, it's either that or a full-blown review and you probably don't want that. But all in all it's not a bad little film and probably worth seeing if you manage your expectations. Not to be apologists about our own opinions, but what the hell do we know? Lots of people seemed to enjoy this it and or at least find the story compelling.
Watch: "Heavy Metal In Baghdad" trailer