It's no secret that Hollywood loves to sell the latest ridiculously silly summer children's' films by pretending, in ads, that it's an effort of grave importance, epic in both scale and significance.
This says a lot about marketing's ability to attract formerly clear-headed adults into these types of entertainments and eventually pilot the proud infantilisation of an audience that consists of grown men and women settling for tentpole blockbusters instead of films about and for them, leading to a basterdized marketplace that caters to the every whim of adults with severe cases of arrested development- an audience that neglects the real humanism of the great films of yesterday, the contents of our former classics now becoming 'niche' offerings while our former B-stories originally meant for brief indulgences now dominate the marketplace.
Enter the new trailer for "Star Trek," the eleventh offering in the space opera franchise, and one that suggests grave importance to the story of a bunch of silly humans piloting an improbable ship in an unrecognizably distant future into the deepest regions to battle obscenely strange aliens with funny skin and phony prosthetic noses. Imagine being an average salaryman in the late sixties, casually enjoying this new, campy space television series, learning that it would result in this, a straight-faced, you-must-see-this sheen of importance cloaking the silly diversion you love for its kiddie subversion of the western and skimpy projection of good-humored kids' adventure.
Learning that you'd be seated in a movie theater and feeling your ass shake from the subwoofers pounding out booming music as Chris Pine's James T. Kirk commits a momentous act by, erm, sitting in a chair. Society's come a long way.
It's no secret that Hollywood loves to sell the latest ridiculously silly summer children's' films by pretending, in ads, that it's an effort of grave importance, epic in both scale and significance.
First there was a movie about the life of the Notorious B.I.G., then a film based on the RUN DMC story was announced, and the planned Tupac Shakur film biography is weighed down in a legal battle, but hip-hop biopics are not going away anytime soon.
The latest to be announced? New Line is planning a film around the story of seminal L.A. gangster rap outfit N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitude), an incendiary and controversial quintet that spawned the careers of hip-hop greats Ice Cube, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre* (yes, Cube is no longer great and Eazy was a punk).
Titled, what else, "Straight Outta Compton," the film will chart the rise and fall of the group that were banned on MTV, radio and basically every other existing outlet, but still went on to sell millions of records regardless. Though Public Enemy were one of the first hip-hop groups to break through with a revolutionary, agitating and politicized tone, NWA's West Coast brand of gangster rap was much more anarchic and nihilistic, an attitude perhaps exemplified in the exasperated frustration of the the 1992 L.A. riots. The group quickly splintered after their success with 1998's Straight Outta Compton. Ice Cube left the group in 1990 after falling out with the group over money issues and they disbanded in 1991. Eazy E died of AIDS related causes in 1995. The film's producers include Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Tomica Wright (Eazy-E's widow), and they're actively seeking an Curtis Hanson-like director; he helmed one of the best hip-hop films in "8 Mile." [EW]
NWA - "100 Miles And Runnin'"
A rare moment of celebration: NWA - "Express Yourself"
Proto-Dre West Coast G-funk: NWA - "Always Into Something"
Drone Metal Soundscape Bands SUNN O))), Boris & Earth Featured In Jim Jarmusch's 'The Limits Of Control'
Jim Jarmusch has pretty sharp and discerning taste and his soundtracks over the years have used innovative music and been exquisitely curated:
— "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" had an incredibly groundbreaking instrumental hip-hop score by the Wu Tan Clan's RZA.
— "Dead Man" featured an amazingly evocative score based on guitar feedback by Neil Young
— "Night on Earth" utilized a whimsical, carnival-like score by the inimitable Tom Waits
— "Broken Flowers" had an eclectic soundtrack that included Holly Golightly, the Greenhornes, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the achingly cool use of Ethiopian composer and musician Mulatu Astatke.
— etc., etc., see the rest of his peerless oeuvre.
Well, looks like Jarmusch has done it again. According to the trailer credits for "The Limits Of Control," Japanese all-embracing metal band Boris have written music for the film. Or at least the credit says, "with music by Boris," which suggests the film does more than use their old songs, but stops short of saying they wrote the score. The eclectic trio's music can go from stoner and sludge metal to more ambient and doomy feedback drones — which by the sounds of the trailer are what the director is leaning towards. This makes sense: that hypnotic and ominous bent in their sound is not only incredibly cinematic, it seems to perfectly fit the elusive tone of the film's "mysterious loner" character as played by lead star Isaach De Bankole.
Even better news for ambient doom metal enthusiasts, Stephen O'Malley of the Boris-collaborating experimental drone metal group SUNN O))) has confirmed on his website that Boris, and the collaborative effort, SUNN O))) & Boris, and the early '90s minimalist drone pioneers Earth, are all part of the soundtrack. The Seattle-based Earth were founded by Dylan Carlson, a good friend of the late Kurt Cobain and by all accounts is probably the last friend to see him alive.
This is all pretty fantastic news. All of these bands' version of black ambient soundscapes are magnificently expressive, moody and cry out to be used in a film. Of course leave it to someone like Jarmusch to keenly observe its massive potential. "The Limits Of Control" comes out May 22 in limited release. It's definitely one of our most anticipated films of 2009.
Here's an awesome atmospheric SUNN O))) & Boris track called, "The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep)"
Sunn O))) & Boris - "Akuma No Kuma"
Earth - "The Dire and Ever Circling Wolves"
The new “Up” trailer is pretty great… and the exact opposite of all the teasers that came before it.
Previously, Disney/Pixar had been marketing the summer comedy based almost solely on the floating house imagery – it adorned early posters, television spots, and trailers. But this new trailer is pretty go-for-broke – showcased here are the talking dogs and bizarre, mythological bird that we saw in the nearly fifty minutes of footage at Comic Con. But there’s also some crazy great stuff from the film’s last act — lots of mean dogs, a cool aerial fight sequence with a dirigible and multiple biplanes. Plus – we finally get to see villainous Christopher Plummer in action!
And while all this whiz-bang-pow action is fairly exciting, it has us slightly worried. Might strong emotional undercurrents and gentle surrealism of the first couple of acts be lost in the cacophonous frenzy of the footage here? Or it is just the trailer doing its best sell tactic efforts?
We’ll see soon enough. “Up” will be out in May. - Drew Taylor
Your public service release date announcement for the day: Greg Mottola's "Adventureland" has moved from a late-March release to an April 3 one. Perhaps they just need another week to get the awareness campaign going. Makes sense. It will also play at the SXSW Film Festival starting March 15.
Also, "Precious" the contentious Lionsgate film that The Weinstein Company is suing over -- formerly titled, "Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire" -- has a vague-ish release schedule. It's coming out in September, but no official date has been given. 'Push,'... er, "Precious" was the big winner at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival where it was critically lauded up the wazoo. We can't wait to see, but it sounds like it'll be a while.
Also: a small-ish New York/Brooklyn Announcement: BAM will no longer be running Sundance At BAM, this year, the three year contract is up. For those not in Manhattan/BK, Sundance at BAM took place in late May, early June and was an excellently curated greatest hits of Sundance for New Yorkers. It basically weeded out all the noise and then played about a dozen or more of the best Sundance films (we saw "Choke," "American Teen," "Anvil" and many other films way before their theatrical release). On a practical level it was fantastic and it saved having to sift through mediocre films at Sundance (especially if you were too broke to fly there like us). So the loss of the series greatly disappoints us. However, a new series at BAM's cinematek will take its place in May and it will also show some 2009 Sundance films, but we've been told it won't just be totally Sundance festival-centric. More info will come out soon. As you were.
Let's all face it: the salient review on Hollywood Elsewhere that said "Watchmen" was "campy silliness and 2nd-rate comic book melodrama" was totally on the money. Add soulless, redundant regurgitation and you're good to go (more context and backstory on our truncated pre-review here which posits why this movie can only fail after "The Dark Knight").
20 years in the making, the "unfilmable" graphic novel about an alternate 1980s universe where Richard Nixon is president and the Vietnam war still rages on has finally arrived and it's up there with the greats, "Star Wars: Attack of The Clone," "Batman Forever," "Superman III," "Matrix II and III," and the other misconceived and sometimes laughable misfires in the cannon of sci-fi and super hero comics.
Just because a man finally figures out how to lick his balls doesn't mean he should; which kind of conveys the self-satisfied and goofy smirk with which Zack Snyder's direction seems to be driven by. It's as if every moment is a stylistic, "can you believe I pulled this off?," and, "look ma, no hands!," plus guileless, unclever winks to the audience, "did you catch that?" — TELEGRAPH!
Sadly, the adaptation of Alan Moore's estimable "Watchmen" — itself a dense, multi-layered and metatexutal termpaper — is a shallow, superficial and fundamentally flawed misreading of the material. About as subtle as a monster truck pile-up, Snyder's version of the subversive Moore murder mystery cum caustic morality tale is tonally-challenged and he imbues it with the flexing enthusiasm of an overeager and callow teenage technician with a flair and knack for style.
More transcription or robotic clerical work than it is transposition or even basic adaptation, the note for note cinema alteration is narratively dull-headed, full of painfully expository, dialogue, plot and backstory. Apparently tone, feel and mood were an afterthought unless it was a brief moment to brood; counterfeit moments of introspection meant to convey some inner challenged weightiness.
"Watchmen" is certainly the slavishly faithful adaptation fans wanted, but so by the letter is the material, its moods, ambiguities, contradictories and complexities are conveyed with about as much soul and emotion as Dr. Manhattan's cue-card like delivery. Its attempt to be unwaveringly patriotic to the ur-text becomes glib jingoism and such veracious fidelity is essentially the dictionary definition of uninspired.
So painfully literal, its wooden and hermetically sealed. No we're not talking those ridiculous and oh-so-loyal costumes, we mean that leaden and robotic dialogue. Is it so hard to understand that what works on the page may not work when read aloud? This is why the table reading was invented and the joke is it wasn't made just for comedies (We're supposed to not laugh at: "Whatever happened to the American dream?!?")
[ed. Here's a tip for you filmmakers on their way to make comic book adaptations: just because a character thinks aloud doesn't mean they should do the same onscreen. They're two different mediums and blatant exposition works to drive narrative in comics, in film it's an obvious 101 no-no that is cringe-worthy]
Snyder's on-the-nose reading is so incalculably juvenile and unsophisticated, it actually insults ones intelligence a few times. Loaded with fanboy Easter eggs in the corners of every shot we're somehow meant to believe that a dense and packed frame with "clues" is somehow supposed to be a stand-in or shortcut for depth? But it's evident that zealous nerds are already foolishly mistaking visual piety and knowing winky, reflexiveness for some kind of profundity.
So much of it feels wildly off the original spirit of the graphic novel. It's one thing to extend the action to appeal to your constituency, and it's another to fetishize it, capturing it in almost-sexual slow motion, savoring every drop of blood and revealing your hand as only really capable in the arena of stylized violence as this is the only element that Snyder does well. If "Watchmen" is the thoughtful, thinking man's comic book — which it is — it appears that Snyder's pedestrian interpretation is disconnected from its working brain. The premium placed on the violence is far too high and there's a crass element to it that goes overboard and never seems in service of the story (please read the New York Times review which eloquently gets into this in depth). Plus the speed-ramping and slo-motion is a terrible crutch. Even a marital dispute in flashback is somehow conveyed in slo-mo? Oh wait, only.. the crucial... moments... you're... meant.. to... take oh-so-seriously.
The graphic novel is textured, thoughtful and carefully observed, but forget nuance and tenor, there is no subtext here, only text which is taken in every dull, facsimiled moment at complete face value. When Snyder — a swell and congenial fellow — talks deconstruction and destroying the superhero movie he's out of his element, but partly right, "Watchmen" does upend the traditional superhero arc and savagely twists it on its side, but make no mistake this was all Moore's doing in '86 and to suggest he should enjoy any credit for those spoils is just another one of his wildly injudicious thoughts.
There is exactly one powerful scene in this naive transposition and this is in the final showdown between the vainglorious would-be martyr villain and the heroes that band together once more to fight their common enemy, but its strength again lies in the powerful and semi-shocking, let sleeping dogs lie conceit which "Watchmen" concludes on. The bitter pill audiences are forced to swallow was powerful to begin with and Snyder thankfully doesn't botch it, but the rest is filled with eye-rolling camp served with heavy slathering doses of guffaw-inducing Velveeta and Cornball.
Visually, "Watchmen," could be called stunning, but didn't "300," and "Sin City" already prove that visual replication is pretty simple? Plus, Moore's story was always first and foremost about its densely weaved narrative and story. He'd probably weep if someone told him his film felt like the "Matrix" (and if you can't somehow discern that this tone if wantonly removed from Moore's original, we weep for you too).
What resonated so loudly, almost above all in the original comic are the extended and distressed cold war cultural anxieties that suffuse the material and while these fears are stated and addressed here, they never manifest on a true emotional level. There is no verisimilitude. One would think in a post 9/11 world these contemporary fears would feel more relevant, but in Snyder's campy, plastic world, it's just backdrop to get the story mechanics going forward.
"Who Watches the Watchmen?" — questioning the moralities and ethics of the once-assumed unimpeachable super hero is the central thesis of Alan Moore's tome. The murder mystery is simply the device to suck you in and drive the narrative forward. But compared to "The Dark Knight" which masterfully navigated the idea of flawed heroes and the blurred distinction between right and wrong, this feels like amateur hour.
Of course a huge part of the populace is going to think most scenes in this film are "kick-ass" -- that meaningless, vapid language of the inarticulate -- easily-sold mouthbreathers that need little more than a showy action sequence to get them erect. What "Watchmen" will also prove is just how fucking lazy the standards of teenage boys and their arrested development man-child counterparts are.
The main dealbreaker is Snyder himself — we read the script in advance and it was actually more flat than what the filmmaker delivered — "tasteful" just isn't in his vocabulary. What we're positive he believes are the subtle "Blade Runner" references are actually groan-worthy and beaten over your head (a barrage of constant crying rain and wailing Vangelis-like synths, dude we fucking get it!). Let's not even go there with the music; are we supposed to crack up when a casual dinner date btwn Nite Owl II (Patrick Willson) and Silk Spectre (a lifeless Malin Akerman) is soundtracked to "99 Luft Balloons" for no apparent reason? It's just another WTF!? moment. Eighties elements like this only further illustrate just how aggressively imprisoned Snyder is by the time period and it only succeeds in bringing more cheese to every aspect (wardrobe, costumes, etc.). Sigh...
Who would have thought that My Chemical Romance's sophomoric execution of Bob Dylan's magnum opus would be the perfect gateway analogy to explain Zack Snyder's clumsy misappropriation of Alan Moore's heavy tradebook, "Watchmen"? The same artless and primitive translation sadly applies here too. [C-]
Didn't the death of the great Charles Grodin at the hands of the "Beethoven" film franchise not act as a cautionary tale for all of Hollywood? We weep and shudder when we recall how Grodin's career tragically ended largely due in part to the shame and embarrassment he carried for taking on those gigs (or at least we assume that's why he retired; any other normal human being would do the same).
Well, Hollywood is apparently not sick of dog movies and has given up trying for the 10th billion time this decade. What's next? A movie based on the comic strip "Marmaduke," about a gigantic Great Dane canine whose oversized body, and overeager enthusiasm for his family leads to lots of zany accidents and punchlines (most of the comic strip seems to be thinly veiled attempt at conveying that Marmaduke wants to mount everyone and everything at all times; like most comic strips the humor is also kind of unintentionally randomly hilarious -- see ridiculous example).
Fox is the studio behind this ill-conceived idea. Tom Dey is the director being entrusted to develop the idea. The Hollywood Reporter says, this is Fox's response to "Alvin & The Chipmunks" raking in $166 million worldwide last year. Makes sense. Everyone loves a cash-cow or cash canine in this case.
People think we're too serious and wound too tight; we don't enjoy things or don't laugh. Sorry, we just have standards. Case in point: when Todd Phillips is on point, he elevates comedy to an artform that is peerless.
Phillips used to be the best comedy director on the planet ("Old School" is a masterpiece, frankly) and then he ran into troubles ("Starsky & Hutch," "School for Scoundrels"), but he looks like he's returning to former glory with "The Hangover," a comedy which stars Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper ("Wedding Crashers") as three best friends at a wild Las Vegas bachelor party who lose the groom just hours before his wedding. The film also stars, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong (of the Apatow family players), Gillian Vigman ("Step Brothers") and Jeffrey Tambor has been rumored.
The trailer is short, but man it looks fucking funny and we already bust a gut. Bradley Cooper was amazing in the severely underrated "Wedding Crashers," Ed Helms is pretty much funny in everything he does, and Galifianakis -- well if you ever doubted his comedic genius please just watch "Live At The Purple Onion," and you'll cry with laughter.
"The Hangover" is due in theaters June 5, 2009. We can't wait. It's probably our most anticipated comedy of 2009.
Weekend Box Office for March 6-8: 'Tokyo!,' 'Everlasting Moments,' '12' And A Graphic Novel Adaptation That's Rather Hilarious
2009 is about to witness yet another piece of history years in the making (though this one is probably far less important to the kinds of people who fill their days with activities like leaving their homes and speaking to members of the opposite sex). That's right--after twenty odd years of trying, Hollywood has finally forced Alan Moore's "Watchmen" onto screens across the country. This adaptation should probably win the weekend and displace Tyler Perry's most recent film, which has reigned for the past two weeks. The fact that it's been impossible to go anywhere in the contiguous 48 states without seeing an ad for the movie, coupled with the fact that it's the only film opening wide this weekend (and wider than any R-Rated movie ever) suggests that it should dominate. It's inevitable. How well it does though remains to be seen, but last minute poor reviews probably cannot derail this juggernaut of marketing.
Russian filmmaker Nikita Mikhalkov, who won an Oscar for best foreign film in 1995 for "Burnt by the Sun", returns this weekend with "12," a semi-adaptation of the Sidney Lumet classic "12 Angry Men" that tells the story of 12 jurors trying an eighteen year-old boy for murder. If costumed heroes aren't your thing, then this picture--with an 89% right now--might be more your speed. Also for foreign film buffs is "Everlasting Moments," from Swedish director Jan Troell. The story centers on a woman who experiences a reawakening of her inner life and escape from an abusive husband through photography as the medium is being born. 'Moments' also boasts a high rating, currently sitting at 85% on the Tomatometer.
Perhaps the most exciting release this weekend is "Tokyo!" a three-part film in the "Paris, Je T'aime" mold about the Japanese city that gives the movie its title. Michel Gondry ("The Science of Sleep"), Joon-Ho Bong ("The Host"), and Leos Carax ("Pola X") each helm a segment that rhapsodizes and examines life in the bustling Japanese metropolis. Reviews have been kind, giving the film a respectable 71% right now and making it a pretty safe bet for Gondryphiles.
Elsewhere, actor Mark Webber ("The Hottest State") makes his directorial debut with Explicit Ills. Starring Paul Dano ("There Will Be Blood"), Rosario Dawson ("Eagle Eye") and Lou Taylor Pucci ("Thumbsucker"), the movie is about the seedy side of Philadelphia. Its 83% rating suggests it might be worth a look. And speaking of Lou Taylor Pucci...he's in another movie this weekend! "Horsemen", starring LTP and Dennis Quaid is a detective thriller with a killer who bases his crimes on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. There's no reviews in yet, which tells you all you need to know as it wasn't screened for critics. It's directed by former shallow music video director Jonas Akerlund who helmed, "Spun," a vile and artificial crystal-meth movie with an all star cast that turned out to be utter shit.
Finally, this weekend's current highest rated picture is "Fados," the third film in a musical trilogy by the great Spanish director Carlos Saura ("Cris Cuervos") Exploring Lisbon through the musical genre of fado, a style particular to that part of the world, the film fuses multiple styles and art forms to create a portrait of Portugal. If you live in a city where this is playing and you miss elaborate and innovative film musicals, give it a shot.
That's pretty much it for this weekend--there are a few smaller films seeing limited release, but nothing too stunning. Frankly, we'll just be glad to see the "Watchmen" hysteria blow over.
Last week: it was announced that Matt Damon and "Bourne Ultimatum" writer George Nolfi had teamed-up for a sci-fi love story called, "The Adjustment Bureau." It would be Nolfi's directorial debut and its' loosely based on a Phillip K. Dick novel (the great sci-fi writer, who Hollywood has consistently raped for ideas including the basis of "Blade Runner").
This week: Universal has picked up the project. Much like how Chris Nolan is taking a break from Batman to shoot "Inception," Damon and Nolfi will tackle this first before the 4th Jason Bourne film which writer/director is also penning.
According to Variety, Damon will shoot this after the Clint Eastwood Mandela project and he will play "a charismatic congressman who seems destined for national political stardom. He meets a beautiful ballet dancer, only to find strange circumstances keeping their sparks from catching fire." Dude, cause she's a replicant!
The comedic-duo of Paul Rudd and Steve Carell, who acted alongside each other in "Anchorman," and "40 Year Old Virgin" are reuniting with director Jay Roach for "Dinner For Schmucks." Carell stepped in after Sasha Baron Cohen dropped out of the film last year. The film, a remake of the 1998 French comedy "Le Diner de Cons" follows two friends who have an odd habit of inviting the biggest losers they can find over for a dinner party, only to mock them mercilessly when they leave.
The film was one of the most fought over projects in the Paramount-Dreamworks divorce last year, with Dreamworks winning the initial custody battle. But when the Spielberg run studio ran into its recent financial troubles, Paramount stepped back in to pick up some of the financial slack, with their new beau Spyglass also coming on to co-finance the film, creating an awkward, shared custody situation.
This will be Roach's first feature film since the 2004 comedy, "Meet the Parents," and despite the hectic schedules of the stars is set to begin shooting next fall.
[Variety via MTV.com]
Just got back from the Walter Reade/Film Comment closing night of "The Hurt Locker" and wow, was dazzled and taken aback by the experience. A dizzying display of raw, intense energy, the first fantastic film of 2009 has arrived and its a fierce and impressive piece of work.
Hollywood Elsewhere's intel and rave reviews were on the money, according to director Kathryn Bigelow - who was in attendance for a post-screening Q&A -- the film has been set for a June 26 release and is riveting and tremendous. A summer release may seem strange, superficially, but the film is locked and loaded rock n' roll, but it the most intelligent expression of that dunderheaded phrase.
We thought lead Jeremy Renner was dropping tow-the-line lip service when he adamantly insisted the picture wasn't an Iraq war film -- of course he would, they're unfortunately box office poison -- but he was exactly on the mark. An action suspense thriller that happens to be set in The backdrop of the Iraq War, 'Hurt Locker' is an apoliticized look at adrenaline junkies who happen to be EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) experts. Jeremy Renner stars as reckless war addict who relishes the rush of immobilizing IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty are his poor security officers meant to safeguard him at all costs. Madness revolves around the soldiers 360 and Renner thrives, but Mackie and Geraghty are essentially casualties of his war on normalcy.
The film also features small appearances by Guy Pearce, Evangeline Lilly, David Morse and Ralph Fiennes -- dayplayers as it were -- that round out the already stellar trio, who hopefully will be recognized for their incredibly urgent performances (though Renner already was nominated for a 2008 Independent Spirit award; Mickey Rourke won).
Shot on 16mm with entirely hand held cameras by "United 93" cinematographer Barry Ackroyd (also known for his work with Ken Loach), 'Locker' is a tightly-wound nerveracker of controlled chaos and the fever pitch of unnerving and anxiety-ridden suspense is masterfully conducted. We have lots of quotes from Bigelow and whole lot more to say, but we've got to go to bed. Suffice to say, "The Hurt Locker" -- a military and sports expression to represent an ultimate pain, i.e., "that bomb goes off and you're gonna be in the hurt locker" -- is as a superb thriller. Oh, and don't worry, there's no mention of that term in the film. As Bigelow laughed, "no, we don't use the kind of exposition." How right she is. We can't wait for everyone to see this, it's a fantastic picture and immense filmmaking.
PS. Another little thought: Bigelow exudes confidence in person and you can clearly see it in her assured directorial work in this film. Most impressive was when an audience member asked her in the Q&A what it was like as a female directing a very masculine and aggro-testosterone filled story. She sort of blinked like it did not compute. The questions seemed to intimate: was she intimidated, but clearly she was not. It's not something that phases her one iota and it says a lot about her and the intrepidness of her filmmaking.
Been wondering what the hell has been going on with Miranda July's follow-up to "Me And You And Everyone We Know," tentatively titled, "Satisfaction"?
We do know that venerable cinematographer Ed Lachman ("The Virgin Suicides," "The Limey," "Far From Heaven") is lensing the movie and it was going to shoot last fall, but that never happened.
Then we got our hands on a decent synopsis, but the whole concept still seemed vague, other than a "love triangle." However, we have our hands on the script (review soon) and the aforementioned synopsis, while vague is pretty much on point. Here it is again.
"Sophie and Jason live together in their happy, crazy and poetic world. One day when wandering in a Crafts Bazaar, they buy the portrait of a little girl made by her own father, Sophie falls in love with the latter, and their lives are turned upside down."It also has a small, environmental bent to it too, but that's not really a key element despite the IMDB logline.Anyhow, the update: One: As we speculated months ago, too lazy to read the book of hers we own, the film is based on one of the short stories in her "No One Belongs Here More Than You" collection.
"After the New York [live] shows, I began to radically transform it into a movie, and that's my next movie project. It's really different, but the few people who saw the performance will see all these things that were in the performance, that if you saw the movie you would never guess that it started out as a performance."Two: casting is finally done the movie will be ready to shoot soon.
"I've been working on three kind of large projects for a long time, all of which are in different stages of completion, but that movie is about to be shot or ready to be shot. But I spent a really long time casting and I'm almost done. I'm making final decisions now although a lot of things are kind of out of my hands."July seems to suggest that the movie has reverted back to an untitled state, which is something we pointed out and suggested in early January. We'll give you this little tease about the script though: we're not quite done reading it and last we left off we weren't loving it much at all. BTW, the photo above was shot by our dear friend Autumn DeWilde. She was Elliott Smith's photographer and does amazing work. [Gothamist via Notofu]
"A professional is never distracted, but every man has his limits."
The trailer for Jim Jarmucsh's "The Limits of Control" is finally here and of course it gives us a few more clues into the secretive story of a mysterious loner (played by Issach De Bankole), a stranger (hitman?) whose activities remain meticulously outside the law.
His character is decidedly methodical and lives within certain ascetic guidelines and codes and his possible vice appears to be the sexy Paz De La Huerta who coos with temptations, "No guns, no sex, how can you stand it?" Plus the synopsis says ambiguously, "His journey, paradoxically both intently focused and dreamlike, takes him not only across Spain but also through his own consciousness." Hmm, a mindbender in here somewhere? The teaser poster available at Apple (and seen here) ain't so great, but it definitely looks unfinished and just a teaser.
"The new movie from filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ("Broken Flowers," "Down by Law") is set in the striking and varied landscapes of contemporary Spain (both urban and otherwise). The location shoot there united the writer/director with acclaimed cinematographer Christopher Doyle ("In the Mood for Love," "Paranoid Park"). Isaach De Bankole stars in the lead role for Mr. Jarmusch; this marks the duo's fourth collaboration over nearly two decades, following "Night on Earth," "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai," and "Coffee and Cigarettes." The film also features several other actors with whom Mr. Jarmusch has previously worked, including Alex Descas, John Hurt, Youki Kudoh, Bill Murray, and Tilda Swinton; and actors new to his films, including Hiam Abbass, Gael García Bernal, Paz De La Huerta, Jean-François Stevenín, and Luis Tosar. "The Limits of Control" is the story of a mysterious loner (played by Mr. De Bankole), a stranger, whose activities remain meticulously outside the law. He is in the process of completing a job, yet he trusts no one, and his objectives are not initially divulged. His journey, paradoxically both intently focused and dreamlike, takes him not only across Spain but also through his own consciousness.Man, we can't wait for this. May 22 is not that far away. Thanks again to Playlist reader Joshua Priestley.
Pedro Almodovar's ("Volver") highly anticipated film, "Broken Embraces," has released a full-length trailer. The film stars Penelope Cruz in her native tongue of Spanish, a language which always makes for a superior performance from the actress. The trailer is completely in Spanish, so congratulations to those Spanish-speaking readers, but you still get the gist of it.
Once again back in the bosom of symbiotic muse Pedro Almodovar, we're expecting big things from "Broken Embraces," one of our most anticipated films of 2009. The film noir has been kept under tight wraps for some time now and this trailer and its little synopsis elucidate more than anything has so far. "Los Abrazos Rotos": A man writes, lives and loves in the darkness. He was the victim of a brutal car accident fourteen years ago. Not only did he lose his sight, but also the woman of his life, Lena (Penelope Cruz).
Broken Embraces' comes out in March for Spain and May in France, which leaves us to believe it will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this spring. In North America, the film will be released November 6th via Sony Pictures Classics.
"The Runaways," the film profiling the all-girls 70's band of the same name has added a new young star to play a drug addled rock star. According to Variety, Dakota Fanning has signed on to play lead signer Cheri Currie, continuing her muscling in on all of Kristen Stewart's projects. Stewart who has already been pegged to play Joan Jett and Fanning is set to appear in the next installment of the "Twilight" series,.
Fanning, at 15, is the same age Currie was when she made her debut with the Runaways as the lead singer who is the voice behind the groups most famous hit, "Cherry Bomb." Not long after her debut with the band, Currie developed a serious drug and alcohol problem, which is perfect for Fanning since she proved she played a great drunk in "Push." The biopic is being written and directed by Floria Sigismondi, and it will begin production in late spring.
"The Dark Knight" and "Watchmen" are oranges and apples, yes?
Well, yes and no, both the original graphic novels which inspired both films were published within a year of each other in the mid '80s and both took a dark, depressed and extremely cynical view of where their tightly-wound Regan/Thatcher conservative eras could possibly take us in the future.
Both were responses to contemporary anxieties and projected them onto imaginary dystopias -- Alan Moore's "Watchmen" ran with the contemporary nuclear fears in an alternate 1980s where Nixon's abuses of power had transformed the world, and Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns," took a ground level look at a world gone mad, infested with a similar crime and moral bankruptcy with a Batman who had returned some 25 years after he had retired (again, set against a cold war and a nuclear backdrop).
Both worlds had essentially become societal sewers and had decided it really had no purpose for caped crusaders other than government sanctioned all-powerful super heroes that fought the Russian commies (Dr. Manhattan and Superman, respectively) and acted as nuclear deterrents. But after Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight," it's tough to reconcile the substantial gritty power that it delivered and the sometimes unintentional hilarity that Snyder brought to our doors. Put it another way, 'Dark Knight' was up for 8 Oscars it was that good and missed Best Director and Best Picture noms by a hair. "Watchmen" will by lucky if it can even scrape up a VFX nomination.
1. Watchmen Doesn't Feel Real; Nothing Is At Stake:
While, "The Dark Knight" wasn't anything like an exact remake of "The Dark Knight Returns," Christopher Nolan and his collaborators wisely imbued their world and spirit with the same level of desperation and despondency. "TDK' felt authentic and was moored in an urgency anyone could relate too. Something was at stake...
2. The Tone Is Goofy:
And unfortunately, Zack Snyder's hamfisted "Watchmen," has none of that and while its world is superficially dark -- how they love those "Blade Runner" references! -- its ever-important tone and feel lies somewhere between, "The Rocketeer," "Batman Forever" and "The Phantom." Violence is the only anchor and it's pretty over-the-top.
3. Faithful Fidelity Was A Bad Idea:
Set in an alternate 1980s universe where the cold war rages on, Nixon has served five terms and nuclear destruction is a palpable cultural fear, it's a what-if scenario if abuses of power turned America into dark, depressed empire in decline. New York resembles its infamous '70s days, and crime, violence and prostitution rules the roost. In Snyder's "Watchmen" this is of course unveiled in an admirable opening montage that tries to cram in decades of backstory and vital cultural context into six minutes with an iconic Bob Dylan song to boot. But it doesn't quite capture or convey the state of panic and distress as it covers about 30 years of ground in a "Forest Gump" manner where the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) was seemingly everywhere (funny and winky, perhaps, but it's hard to take very seriously). It's decidedly campy and cartoony. Sure "Watchmen" looks exactly like the comic novel, but obviously, to a fault; its hopeless devotion just doesn't help in the hands of this lesser filmmaker (the removal of the squid - the one big deviation was one of the few smart choices).
4. The 80s Are Cornball:
Another inherent problem -- and surely fans will be appalled at this notion -- is that the "Watchmen" story is dated. Written in '85 and published in '86, the story is almost 25 years old and was always meant to be an allegory for the Regan/Thatcher Orwellian 1984 years of conservative fear mongering and nuclear cold war disquietude. But by refusing to update it in any manner - the high fidelity of dogged literalness - there is zero contemporary connection to ground it or make it feel honest. Snyder skates by with vaguely similar fumes of 9/11, but none of that resonates in any deep manner, even if there are shots of the WTC twin towers still standing. Just having them there isn't enough and that empty gesture is indicative of a lot of the creative choices in the film.
5. Dark & Gritty Vs. Dark & Cartoony:
While there is one gigantic weapon of mass destruction in Dr.Manhattan, unlike say "The Dark Knight," none of it is grounded in any of the grim and dankness that both comic worlds contained. The "Watchmen" look is a glossy sheen, the visuals have a glowed halo, the colors too bright and too '80s -- it works in the comics, the neon smut tones, but onscreen they look preposterously cartoony. It's a fairytale world and doesn't resonate in any contemporary manner. The elements are all there on paper, but they're hollow and lifeless. And yes, all these "issues" stick exactly to a T to the comic-book, but it just doesn't help it feel believable in this post-"Dark Knight" world (even "Iron Man" and its fun, humor feels more honest).
6. Emotion, Truth And Grittiness Are Sold Separately:
Watchmen is supposed to be a world where superheroes are more human than hero, with real fears, torment, baggage and anguish, but here, the plastic costumes, earsore-ful '80s music, dialogue and wooden acting all feels like lip-service put on screen and distract from any emotional depth. And when "Watchmen" attempts to feel "real," it mistakes punishing gratuitous violence for depth. The Comedian's attempted rape of the Silk Spectre I, doesn't convey any deep-seated problems to her life, it's just an excruciating beating for the sake of an excruciating beating. The delivery of everything is just hard to buy on any level.
6.5 The Music
Let's not even go there. It's so misguided and filled with laughable self-importance - the touchstones of the counterculture 60s! - it's a piece unto itself. The sex-scene to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," is an instant ludicrous doozy, woo.
Why is Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" considered the greatest comic book movie ever made? Because it knowingly transcended the comic book genre and ghetto of cornpone camp and unbelievable elements most non-comic audiences can't hang with, by mostly eschewing all the ridiculous elements that work in comics and don't work onscreen - the man knew what do discard and had a keen sense of the two mediums being, uhh... two different mediums. Regardless if it didn't contain any obvious cultural nods to contemporary fears (post-911 or otherwise), 'Dark Knight' conveyed a razor immediacy, a heart-stopping fear of destruction and anarchy around the corner and everything was grounded in an all-too-genuine reality (at least compared to 95% of all comic book movie). It also just set the bar way too high for any other charlatans. Nolan's a firstclass filmmaker and was before he shot 'TDK.' Zack Snyder is not.
Snyder's campy world of nipple suit, fetishized leather and cod pieces? Well, it's slightly less goofy than "Batman Forever," but it's still too far away from any contemporary world to make it anything more than a spectacle to enjoy. But if "Dark Knight" irrevocably changed the way you see comic book movies and your relationship to super heros -- which it did, and you're expecting more of that, consider "Watchmen" three steps backwards (way past "Iron Man") and best of luck. Even "X-Men 3" by Brett Ratner was more believable than this. Mark our words: no matter how much the fanboys ejaculate, this one is not going down in the annals of classic super hero movies.