Yesterday it was announced that genre-bending™ director Neil Marshall ("Dog Soldiers," "The Descent," "Doomsday") would be directing "Burst 3D" for Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert's Ghost House Productions, with worldwide distribution being handled by Lionsgate.
The script, by hot newcomer Gary Dauberman (who is also writing the "Deadman" movie for producer Guillermo del Toro and the newly reorganized D.C. Entertainment), was said to be one of Ghost House's favorites of late. The story takes place in a blizzard, when a supernatural force menaces a group of wary travelers, causing them to spontaneously combust. While we're not crazy about the whole "supernatural force" angle, seeing people's heads explode is an undeniable, primal delight, especially in three dimensions.
Mike Pasornek, Lionsgate's President of Motion Picture Productions, made the hyperbolic claim in the press release that "horror fans are guaranteed one of the most terrifying and innovative experiences of their moviegoing lives." Uh huh.
While this all sounds like good, gooey fun, we can't help but feel that Neil Marshall's considerable talents would be better suited elsewhere. Thankfully, he's got the cool-sounding Romans versus British sword-and-sandals epic "Centurion" coming -- though it could easily just be a "300" knock0ff -- starring "Inglourious Basterds" scene-stealer Michael Fassbender. Keep in mind Neil Marshall was said to be the front-runner to helm Robert Rodriguez's "Predators," before the job went to Nimrod Antal, so maybe he's just looking for work.
We also wonder if the 3D gags will overwhelm any semblance of plot (the sooner this 3D horror movie jag is over, the better), thus deeming it unwatchable on home video formats.
No word on when this thing is supposed to land, but we're guessing Halloween next year.[ComingSooon]- Drew Taylor
Yesterday it was announced that genre-bending™ director Neil Marshall ("Dog Soldiers," "The Descent," "Doomsday") would be directing "Burst 3D" for Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert's Ghost House Productions, with worldwide distribution being handled by Lionsgate.
Paramount Claims 'Paranormal Activity' Got the 1 Million Hits Needed for it To Go Wide, But That's a Crock of Shit
Last night, we got a press release from Paramount saying that, following the 1 million hits the film received on its website, the studio would be giving Oren Peli's micro-budget spooky movie "Paranormal Activity" a nationwide expansion. Except that this is, of course, a total crock of shit.
While the film has been doing gangbusters in its limited, midnight-only screenings, the studio has been planning a nationwide rollout for a little while now. We talked to a local theater manager in Connecticut early last week (where it hadn't opened yet) that said that Paramount had already been letting the theaters know that "Paranormal Activity" was going to go wide, very soon. This was news to us, but it seemed like such a no brainer that we really didn't think anymore about it. But then we got the press release, and the odorous fumes of bullshit wafted our way.
So whether or not the website got the million hits doesn't really matter. Paramount was already planning on rolling this baby out wide before Halloween, which we are slightly "grateful" for, because lord knows the world needs yet another sub-"Blair Witch," retread out there (isn't there one a year pretty much? Meh). Still we suppose it's better than one more Halloween where the only scary movie option is a stupid "Saw" sequel and we would have committed hari-kari to the tune of "Monster Mash." - Drew Taylor
"Cabin in the Woods" seemed like it was going to be a genuine genre gem. The horror flick, which has been shrouded in secrecy (besides some hilarious Comic Con posters that said stuff like "If something is chasing you… Split up."), was co-written by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" braintrust Joss Whedon and "Cloverfield" scribe Drew Goddard, with Goddard also directing. Goddard was also responsible for some of the best later-year "Buffy" episodes as well as some choice hours of "Lost" (including the first season "Outlaws," when Sawyer was terrorized by the boar). They are both very smart dudes, and the cast, rounded out by youngsters like "Dollhouse" actor Fran Kranz as well as veterans like Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, was fairly solid.
We heard the studio was very happy with it, that there were a bunch of big tie-ins planned, etc. And now comes word from Shock Till You Drop that the movie has been bumped by the studio - by a full year! The film was supposed to be out on February 5th, 2010 and will now bow on January 14th, 2011. That's a huge fucking bump.
The official reason given is that they want to spend a good six months to convert the movie into 3D. To which we say - WHY? The movie wasn't conceived in 3D. Is 3D really that important to sell tickets? If the movie played so well in 2D, which, supposedly, it did, then the 3D seems beyond superfluous. Are they going to add new scenes of somebody playing with a yoyo into the camera? These are the questions begging to be answered.
Again: as soon as this 3D horror boom ends, we'll be happy. How many times have you found yourself revisiting "Jaws 3D" or "Amityville 3D?" Exactly. And this summer's "The Final Destination" killed a seemingly unstoppable and clever horror franchise with an overdose of cheesy 'shit flying at you,' that rendered anything that wasn't flying at you beyond dull.
We find this whole "Cabin in the Woods" thing a bit odd, especially since its been getting nothing but great buzz. And we bet our good friends at Chronicle Books, who had two lavish tie-in titles ready to go for the film's release, are seething at this announcement. Also, for a movie that's done such a good job at keeping itself secret, how long is that going to last if they're going to tinker with it for another year? The great thing about "Cloverfield" was that it was about six months between the first teaser and the movie's release, which didn't quell the rampant online speculation but at least didn't give it as much time to get out of control. Expect geek sites to have a field day with this thing… for a whole 'nother year. [ShockTilYour Drop] - Drew Taylor
So the New York Film Festival is about to end this weekend and we've admittedly done a horrible job of keeping up with our reviews. We're extremely behind.
Though, the plus is some of these key films we already seen in Cannes earlier this year. Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist," was a creepy freakshow that felt ultimately uneven; Pedro Almodovar's "Broken Embraces," was also decidedly not his best picture, but in retrospect is still a sexy and evocative concoction of all his past works of melodrama, mystery, camp and intrigue; Bong Joon Ho's "Mother," was a feverishly superb murder mystery procedural mixing drama, absurdist humor and nightmarish concepts for a parent.
We also caught Alain Resnais' quirky romance stalker picture "Wild Grass," Corneliu Porumboi's"Police, Adjective," Todd Solondz's semi return to form in, "Life During Wartime," and Manoel de Oliveira's hilariously deadpan, "Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl" (dude is 100 years old, we shit you not).
But there's tons of films we've seen that we haven't had a second to write about (plus god, we still have about two or three reviews leftover from TIFF!). To give you a little preview we were a bit disappointed with Michael Haneke's sprawling and rigidly formalistic, two and a half hour, "White Ribbon," which won the coveted Palm d'Or earlier this year. We're officially calling Lee Daniels' urban drama, "Precious" the most overrated film of the year or at least out of Sundance (great performances, especially Mo'Nique, but stylistically it leaves a lot to be desired). We also saw Bruno Dumont's "Hadejwich," and we're often put off by his highly scabrous works and sometime empty headed "shocking" conclusions which can make enfante terribles like Haneke and Von Trier look like saints, but this examination of faith and martyrdom was his most mature and best effort to date.
Other pictures we had a chance to see were Harmony Korine's backwoods, lo-fi vignettes comedy (yes, it's pretty hilarious), "Trash Humpers," which wasn't the pretentious shitpiece many expected and more of a pretty joyful celebration of retardo shenanigans, hanging out and doing strange, dumb shit (picture the nonsense that happens in skate videos when they're not skating, but then place the characters are devious old farts causing a ruckus in back alleys).
Also quite engaging and perhaps the best picture we saw at NYFF so far was the documentary, "Henri George’s Clouzot’s Inferno," by Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea, which belatedly chronicle's French horror maestro George Clouzot's abandoned attempt to film his 1964 would-be masterwork, "L'Enferno," a madness/jealousy drama that had hoped to utilize some groundbreaking optical and experimental camera work. The picture fell apart due to his obsessive nature and then eventually, a heart attack that nailed the coffin shut in the already-tumultuous project, and it's a fascinating portrait of what might have been.
Tonight we finally see Clair Denis' "White Material," starring the always arresting Isabelle Huppert and then tomorrow we have French boudoir provoactrix Catherine Breillat's "Bluebeard," which sounds like it could continue to push buttons (is a fairy tale about a young woman who marries the murderous lord Bluebeard).
Full reviews coming when we can find a second to crank them out. We're a little overwhelmed.
The title track from Charlotte Gainsbourg's new album IRM, produced by Beck has been given out for free on Gainsbourg's official website.
The first official single will still be the song, "Heaven Can Wait," which is a duet with Beck and the album is expected, January 2010 (though this French-centric blog says December 11, Update: we've confirmed, the album actually comes out in France on December 7). "Heaven Can Wait," will be released in France on October 19. Only one song on the album is sung in French and it's actually a cover of a Quebecois song, "Le chat du Café des artistes" by Jean-Pierre Ferland (the song is below).
"IRM" the song, is very obtusely robotic, almost as if Gainsbourg and Beck were trying to channel English retro-futurists, Broadcast, there's a reason for that, Beck is a fan.
Anyhow, give it a listen and see what you think. It's an odd, but engaging track and it's probably not what you expected, but that's always a good thing. Gainsbourg's latest movie is Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist" a film that hits U.S. theaters in limited release on October 23 and won her the Best Actress award at Cannes earlier this year (watch the trailer). PS, we've got wind of another interesting Beck collaboration in the works, but it's not with a filmmaker of any kind so we'll leave it for someone else to break. Think Pacific Northwest.
Jean-Pierre Ferland - "Le chat du Café des artistes"
Worldwide domination for Canadian metalheads Anvil inches ever so closer.
The group — the subject of the excellent Sacha Gervasi-directed documentary, "Anvil! The Story Of Anvil" (technically a 2009 film, but one we saw last year and included in our Best Movies Of The Year list) — have shot a cameo in Michel Gondry's "The Green Hornet," according to the L.A. Times.
Wednesday they made their movie debut on the set of fan and director Michel Gondry's big-budget flick "The Green Hornet," filming a cameo where they (literally) explode playing in a rock club.Sounds like Gondry blew them up real good (for you SCTV fans out there, Canadian rockers, etc.) The documentary has done wonders for their underachieving careers. It chronicles the sad, funny, brutal 30-year struggle to get even a minimum of recognition, but it's slowly been taking hold over 2009 with the band and doc gaining fans like Keanu Reeves, Christ Martin of Coldplay and Dustin Hoffman. The band just shot appearances on ABC's "Nightline" and "The Tonight Show" where Conan O'Brien raved about the film.
The documentary also hit DVD this week on Tuesday. We need to get our hands on that (hint!). And apparently the band and film have presented the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences with the very first official 2009 Academy viewing screener mailed out this week.
God, we would love this doc to earn itself an Academy Award nomination. That would be an incredible feat and it's exceptionally deserving. But would the Academy doc voters go for this? Traditionally, they go for much more serious fare and while "Anvil," is heartwarming, hilarious and inspiring, it's not exactly social-documentary like, "Trouble The Water," or "Born Into Brothels," the type of doco that normally scores a nod.
Well, here's to hoping. Until then we can look forward to watching Anvil get blown to bits during the Michel Gondry-directed 'Green Hornet,' which stars Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Edward James Olmos, Tom Wilkinson, Tony-Award nominated David Harbour, and Christoph Waltz as the film's main villain. The film hits theaters December 18, 2010.
Oh man, we just got wet hearing this news.
Following his freaky psychological horror film, "Antichrist," Danish auteur Lars Von Trier has announced his next project and it's going to be a sci-fi-sounding film of sorts, naturally with a strong psychological bent.
But it also sounds like the Danish auteur is swinging for the fences and getting even more ambitious as the new project, titled, "Melancholia," is really described as a psychological drama disaster picture (with sci-fi-ish elements).
Wrap your head around that one for a second, but remember this won't be "Armageddon." What's more the project is being budgeted at a lean $7 million dollars and will be another English language film, so that budget can only mean the concepts can't be that technically over-the-top — it sounds like we're in the vein of "Solaris," both the Tarkovsky and Soderbergh versions.
Variety also says the film will begin its European shoot sometime in 2010 and quotes Von Trier in a press release that says, "No more happy endings!" which is surely his twisted take on the pretty bleak, yet still ambiguous conclusion of "Antichrist."
The script is one that Von Trier has written himself (so much for that crippling depression that lead to inactivity), refers to Planet Melancholia, an enormous planet that evidently looms threateningly close to Earth within this story.
$7 million isn't a lot for a sci-fi film, but it won't be a Dogme-type style picture either. "As a disaster movie, 'Melancholia' will use some special effects, but nothing compared to Hollywood," Zentropa Entertainment head, Peter Aalbaek Jensen said (they're producing). This co-founder also added that the picture will not be an alien invasion movie.
"Antichrist," was a wonderful bust (read our review from Cannes), and as demented and unsuccessful as it was in parts, and perhaps overall, the creepy picture was also terrifying, gripping and unforgettable. There's always something to be said for that.
Let's face it, sci-fi and horror are terrible, predictable genres when in the hands of even your average filmmaker, but when an auteur and a European one at that, tries to subvert the genre and form, they usually deliver something quite incredible and unique. We seriously cannot fucking wait for this. #chaosreigns! #movieboners.
Back in August when covering the soundtrack to Irish gangster comedy TIFF film, "Perrier's Bounty." we asked aloud, "when in blazes is Steven Soderbergh going to team-up with David Holmes again" — the DJ/electronic producer behind the excellent cocktail-stirred and grossly underrated scores to the 'Oceans 11-13' series," not to mention the brisk and funky "Out Of Sight" beats (a couple of his tracks were also used in "The Girlfriend Experience").
Our wish is apparently also our command. The Playlist has just learned that Holmes has been chosen to score Soderbergh's upcoming action spy thriller, "Knockout." While we have no details on what the music will sound like because Holmes just came on board, this is exciting news as all the music Holmes has penned for Soderbergh films have been impressive concoctions of vintage spy music and hip, beat-laden Mondo exotica (folks like Combustible Edison, Beck and any kind of soundtrack connoisseurs and LP-crate diggers highly regard these excellent deep cuts).
A source close to the project also reiterates something we had in our original report. "Knockout," is just the working title and it's guaranteed to change sometime between now and when the film is released (or possibly simply when the script is complete). Feisty screenwriter Lem Dobbs ("The Limey," "Kafka") is still in the middle of writing the picture's first draft and a title won't be settled on until at least after he's finished.
As reported, the film will star American Mixed Martial arts champion Gina Carano — she's on the cover of ESPN this month — and a cast of names will surround her in supporting roles once it's clear who these characters are.
We're told relatively "big" names, but no usual Soderbergh-suspects (Pitt, Clooney or Damon). We've been tracking the various spy/action influences that might mark the film, but our source says, "more 'Point Blank' than 'Bond' or 'Bourne,'" which is great for all the heads that adore that abstract, but still lean and gritty John Boorman film.
We're big fans of Holmes' work and have covered the music of "Ocean's Eleven," "Ocean's Thirteen," and "Out Of Sight" if you want to take a deeper look and listen.
We've embedded some 'Ocean's' cuts below. You have to at least listen to "69 Police," the final track from "Ocean's Eleven," that plays over the film's final moments and credits. It's phenomenal and a keeper track we've always filed away for good use.
There's a lot of fuss being kicked about this week about the little indie film, "Trucker," and we're not sure what that's all about. The small, scrappy little indies hits theaters this weekend, but you'd hardly know if you looked around (it's not on Rotten Tomatoes for this week's releases, though you can find it on Metacritic). Not that that has anything to do with its quality, but just saying.
The straightforward, no frills-film, about a tough and emotionally detached female trucker with no maternal instinct forced to raise the son she abandoned when her ex-husband gets cancer, is earning rave reviews and some are talking Oscar for its lead Michelle Monaghan. Roger Ebert was the most recent name critic to weigh in on the film and he gave it a 4/5 star review. Pathological Oscar proponents Awards Daily have been beating the drum furiously for this one, but hold the phone people.
While the film is surprisingly well-shot (some great contours and dirty textures throughout) and well-scored (a plaintive and heartfelt country-ish, acoustic-led music by Mychael Danna, plus lots of use of indie-country that won't make you wretch), we're not sure we buy Monaghan as the hard-bitten mom here that drives a four wheeler and once abandoned her kid. Monaghan was fantastic in her breakout role, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," but she's mostly floundered ever since in bad career choices ("Eagle Eye," though she was decent in "Gone Baby Gone") so it stands to reason she'd want to take on a role with more grit and meat to it, but is she the right choice here? Sipping copious beer, smokin' lots of ciggies, cussing a lot and fucking everything that moves doesn't neccessarily make for a break-out performance, but to hear it from the rest of critics it's like she's completely transformed herself into another person which couldn't be further from the truth.
She tries to unpretty herself, dirty herself up with a half-hearted Midwestern hairdo (ok, she looks fairly unattractive maybe it does work), but her performance is not really any major tour de force. Spouting, "dude," every two seconds and and acting like one has a sock in their johnson doesn't neccesarily lend her any deep airs either.
And yes, tough hardships befall the character, but much of it (like a random rape scene) is tonally out of nowhere. But just because brutal, harrowing things happen to characters doesn't mean they neccesarily respond or react to these problems in particularly nuanced or profound ways.
Some are calling the film and her performance heartfelt and soulful, and while we'll give the film the latter designation in spots (supporting players Benjammin Bratt and Nathon Fillion are solid and the latter's quiet performance might actually be the best thing about the picture, thesp-wise), it also does have a bit of a Lifetime Movie predictable, warm and fuzzy tone to it as well.
Not quite sentimental and melodramatic, we'll give it that, but not quite moving or emotionally penetrating either. "Trucker," is a decent little indie and we wish all the filmmakers the best with it, but frankly, it's nothing to get overly excited or write home about either. And if Oscar prognoticators think Monaghan is getting a nomination, they're more delusional than we thought. Maybe an Indie Spirit Award if she's lucky, but even Michelle Williams ISA nomination in "Wendy & Lucy" (an indie performance that was Oscar worthy) blows her far out of the water emotional pound for pound.
In the biggest news to hit the undersexed film writer community since the Great Natalie Portman/Mila Kunis Overload of '09, Kristen Bell will play Christina Aguilera's main rival in the upcoming musical "Burlesque," and it's sent the Internet all aflutter. Soulless popster Aguilera will play a small town girl with a big voice who starts working in an LA burlesque club, "reminiscent of the nightclub in Bob Fosse's "Cabaret." Great, so even the production design will be derivative...
Bell will play Nikki, the lead dancer at the club "who spirals out of control when Aguilera's character suddenly gets the spotlight."Also in the cast, as we previously reported, are Stanley Tucci, as the club's manager, and Cher, as a veteran dancer. We like Bell plenty, she was charming and funny in "Veronica Mars", and showed dramatic chops in a short arc in the late lamented "Deadwood," but no-one's quite worked out how to use her on the big screen — witness the abysmal "Couples Retreat," out this weekend, or the upcoming "When In Rome" (the trailer of which is embedded below), which, as you'll see, looks to be an early front-runner for the worst film of 2010.
Unfortunately, "Burlesque" isn't likely to break the run, being directed by Steve Antin, one of the, erm, brains behind the Pussycat Dolls.
Gus Van Sant's new project "Restless," is coming along nicely. Australian star-in-the-making Mia Wasikowska (the lead of Tim Burton's upcoming "Alice In Wonderland") is in final negotiations to take the lead role in what is being called a dark coming-of-age drama by THR.
Last time it was described as a "contemporary and distinctive take on young love," so the details seem to be a bit clearer. Though Movieline have the script and they've called the film, "the most emo love story to ever don black lipstick and listen to The Smiths."
Protagonist Enoch Brae is a 17-year-old funeral crasher, drawn to attending strangers’ memorials after losing both his parents. At one of them, he meets the beautiful, tomboyish Annabel Cotton (Wasikowska), a 16-year-old with Six Months to Live. Love then blooms among the gravestones as “the moon looks on knowingly and sympathetically."Wasikowska is all of 19 years of age, but has been pretty much fantastic in everything she's been (most recently she was quite good in "That Evening Sun"). Don't be surprised if she has an Oscar under her belt by the time she's 30 and several nominations by the time she reaches 25. Or at least if all goes well and according to plan.
A male lead also needs to be cast. Are we looking at a Robert Pattinson-type figure and then maybe a "Romeo & Juliet"/ "Twilight"-like following perhaps?
"Restless" is an interesting project if only because it seems to show Van Sant's proclivities for the "one for them, one for us" mentality that many indie directors ascribe to. It's also a project that Van Sant didn't develop and was brought onboard by the producers Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Bryce Dallas Howard.
After four experimental indies in a role that all played with shifting and overlapping temporal aesthetics — "Gerry," "Elephant," "Last Days" and "Paranoid Park" — and then going more mainstream with "Milk," it appears the Portland filmmaker, known for disparate films like "Drugstore Cowboy," and "Goodwill Hunting," will continue on his path of eclectic choices and a non-discriminating view of the indie or mainstream worlds.
The film is budgeted at $15 million, which is $5 million less than "Milk," so we should probably still expect a mid-sized mini-major effort. This is Focus Features ballpark money, but Columbia is actually the studio behind this one.
It's easily one of the movies we're most excited about in the next few months — we wrote about it in our London Film Festival preview earlier in the week, and we're finally catching up with it this weekend. But fortunately, Catherine Breillat's "Bluebeard" will see a release across the country, following its premiere at the New York Film Festival today.
Arthouse distributors Strand Releasing, whose recent releases include Faith Akin's "The Edge of Heaven," and harrowing war movie "A Woman In Berlin," have picked up the film for release next spring. The company's co-president Marcus Hu told Screen Daily "We're thrilled that we will be handling Breillat's unique take on a famous tale."
The film, based on the fairy tale by Charles Perrault, follows a girl in the 16th century who marries an aristocrat, only to discover he may have murdered his previous wives. This strand is contrasted with a contemporary storyline, about two young sisters reading the story together. This is good news — there's always a risk with a film like this that it won't be seen outside the festival circuit, despite Breillat's reputation.
Strand Releasing plans for a Spring 2010 release date.
Been there, done that. Werner Herzog's off-the-rails, "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans," will give you some absurdist laughs and perhaps give you a second or two of awe at some of the ludicrously audacious moments (the lizards, the crocodile, the breakdancing soul) and ha ha ha! it's very ironically funny, but unlike classic Herzog films there's just too little weight, gravitas or profundity to be found (read our full review from TIFF). There's no real meat to hold on to. It's a hollow experience that's good for semi-entertaining guffaws, but has zero long-tail resonance and at the end of the day is definitely nowhere near the top of Herzog's finest work.
Either way, the new official trailer has arrived. Here's the synopsis too.
A rogue detective (Nicolas Cage) is as devoted to his job as he is at scoring drugs — while playing fast and loose with the law. He wields his badge as often as he wields his gun in order to get his way. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he becomes a high-functioning addict who is a deeply intuitive, fearless detective reigning over the beautiful ruins of New Orleans with authority and abandon. Complicating his tumultuous life is the prostitute he loves (Eva Mendes). Together they descend into their own world marked by desire, compulsion, and conscience.The film stars Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Xzibit, Fairuza Bulk and Jennifer Coolidge. The very budget studio First Look Pictures are releasing the picture on November 20. If you're looking for simple entertainment value, 'Bad Lieutenant' probably won't disappoint (especially for non-discerning moviegoers), but if you're looking for a bit of that Herzog magic, the ecstatic incandescence of truth, you're going to remain unsatiated. His foray into American filmmaking thus far has not been very successful. If you do want a glimpse of Herzog's genius, look for the "spoon" sequence in this movie. It's the closest the movie ever comes to reaching the divinity he's known to capture. Here's the trailer below.
Atom Egoyan's 'Chloe' Picked Up By Sony, Tom Ford's 'A Single Man' Hits Dec 11, Women in Trouble Get's A '70s Centric Poster
- In distribution news, Atom Egoyan's "Chloe" has been picked up by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group. The drama, a tale of infidelity starring Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried, will be released in the first half of next year, although it's unclear whether it'll be released through Sony Pictures Classics, or via another route. We kind of hated it when we saw it at Toronto, but we're glad to see that one of our favorites from the festival, and indeed the year, Tom Ford's "A Single Man", has solidified a release date through The Weinstein Company: the picture will be out in limited release on December 11th, and expand from there.
- Parker Posey has joined Danny Glover in the comedy "Highland Park," currently shooting in Detroit. The movie focuses on a teacher (Glover) who wins the lottery, and decides to use his winnings to restore the local library. Hopefully it's not your run-of-the-mill inspirational teacher movie - the film's described as "a dark comedy," so it may prove more subversive than the synopsis sounds. Posey will play a homecoming queen-turned-mayor. Interestingly, the movie will benefit the local community, as it's intended to mirror the film's plot, and result in the restoration and re-opening of the real- life McGregor Library in Detroit.
- "Amityville Horror" remake director Andrew Douglas is returning to the screen for the British/Spanish co-production "The Perfect Assassin," from "The Orphanage" producers Joaquin Padro and Mar Targarona. Like Michael Mann's recently announced "Waiting for Robert Capa," the film takes place during the Spanish Civil War, although this is a thriller, based on the novel "Homage to a Firing Squad" by Tariq Goddard, about two hit squads sent to kill a politician. The script, by Paul Webb, the writer of Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" project, will shoot in Spain next Spring.
- Sebastien Gutierrez's "Women in Trouble," a sort-of Almodovar-meets-Russ-Meyer camp indie that we were pretty lukewarm on at SXSW, has debuted its final theatrical poster. It seems to be aiming for effortless '70s cool, but comes off more as Maxim meets "He's Just Not That Into You." Which actually represents the film quite well, now we think of it... It hits in limited release on November 13th.
- The indie flick, "The Space Between," has a cast in the shape of the always wonderful Melissa Leo ("Frozen River"), AnnaSophia Robb ("Bridge to Terabitha") and Brad William Henke ("Choke"). The movie follows a flight attendant, played by Leo, who has to accompany a young Arab-American boy, played by newcomer Anthony Keyvan, across the country following the 9/11 attacks, as the boy searches for his father, who works at the World Trade Center, and is written and directed by Travis Fine, a former American Airlines pilot. Sounds a bit afterschool special to us, despite the strong cast...
- Lucy Liu will star in the Mexican-produced, English language movie "Nomads," about a documentary filmmaker tracking subway suicides. She'll star alongside John Cothran Jr. ("Black Snake Moan"), Tamlyn Tomita ("24") and Tenoch Huerta ("Sin Nombre").
- In a move that seems at least 1 year, 11 months, 29 days, 23 hours and 45 minutes past its sell-by date, Simon Cowell, Britain's most punchable man, and judge/producer on "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent," is teaming with former Paramount studio head Brad Weston and Matthew Vaughn to produce a biopic of the chunky opera star Paul Potts. The singer was a mobile phone salesman who was the first winner of "Britain's Got Talent" with his rendition of "Nessun Dorma," and has since gone on to perform all over the world. The movie, which will retain the British setting, is entitled "One Chance", and has a script by "The Bucket List" screenwriter Justin Zackham, and looks set to be directed by Julian Jarrold ("Becoming Jane", "Red Riding: 1974"). There's no news on casting, but five'll get you ten they want British TV star James Corden, also set to star in Brit List topper "Good Luck Anthony Belcher."
No, given the light vanilla flavorings of the "Couples Retreat" trailer, one can't really be surprised that this rom com is an intolerable mish-mash of half-written and halfhearted gags, but christ. With a cast full of improv-heavy riffers like Vincent Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Jason Bateman (all part of the "The Break-Up" crew, an underrated little comedy of that ilk) one would hope that asking for a few, mildly diverting moments wouldn't be too much to ask.
Yet it is. From this lazily thrown together and poorly written excuse of a comedy, it's asking a lot. Completely mirthless, edited like a fourth grader with threads left dangling everywhere (though really, do you really even care?) "Couples Retreat," attempts to say something about love and marriage from the 40-something crowd (the new '30s) and comes up empty-handed with hackneyed cliches, eye-rolling platitudes and cheap sentimentality. All these people can be great comedic actors, but there's zero chemistry to be found throughout. What becomes more important than story or even laughs is seemingly random, thrown together moments like a scene out-of-nowhere, that spends about five minutes in a Guitar Hero showdown (basically just a blatant commercial for the game). Product placement is rampant throughout as well and it's just painfully obvious.
There's no point in getting into a review proper. It's a waste of time for all of us. But the bullet points you should be aware of lest you're silly enough to burn away your time and money on this banal and tired endeavor: there are maybe 1-2 mild chuckles to be gained in the hour and a half that you spend with these characters (stock leftover bits you've all seen them play before, especially the males) and that's being incredibly generous. Vince Vaughn tries to do his crazy riffing thing that generally provides laughs (if you're going to spit all over a target with a hose, eventually you're going to land some zingers), but here his well has dried up and he actually seems like he's trying to rein it in, portraying one of the more (relatively) mature men on "problem" island. That idea is sensible for trying to do something different, yet it's bad for those of us who are desperate for any kind of laughs.
While you don't expect the directing (or any of it, really) to be high art, you do expect a film to be a least semi-competent. First time director Peter Billingsley does a safe, semi-passable job, but whoever his editors were should have their Guild cards revoked because they do nothing to help out poor transitions, jarring breaks to the next scene and the overall narrative gaps. Maybe the sentiment is simply, "aww, its a comedy, don't worry dude," and yes, generally one will let sloppy fluidity go in a light comedy, but this picture is largely such a mess of mismatched shots and cuts that even your average plebe is going to notice the incoherence moving from scene to scene.
If "Couples Retreat," has one thing going for it, it's that its intentions seem somewhat sound. These guys might have simply wanted to write themselves into a paid, working vacation with friends, but this film pains itself to not just center on immature manchild laughs, and attempts to import some weight to the difficulties and obstacles of marriage. While the attempt is duly noted, they might have just stuck to the dumb laughs as the execution is pedestrian, unclever and banal. Plus, the writers and filmmakers never actually stick to their maturing theme. One second the men are jackasses, the next they're trying to lead the others by example. Because "laughs" (a very relative term here) are paramount to "story," right? And the ladies — Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell — Christ, they stand around, look pretty, become exasperated by their asshole husbands' behavior (cause they basically do nothing wrong throughout) and drink Mai Tais. The sentiments throughout are always puddle deep: if you brave through the rough, choppy waters of relationships, you'll eventually arrive at the island where everything is happy! Man, we expect much more from Favreau and Vaughn.
We've already wasted too many words. Give your dollars a rest. You'd be better off buying dish soap or giving yourself a home colonoscopy. Painful, a waste of time and unfunny. It's soberingly bad. [D-]
With only one film out in wide release, it’s a no-man’s land at the box office this weekend. If you don’t live in a city with a decent art-house option, maybe “The Informant” is still playing? Either way, "Couple Retreat" is going to have a hard time knocking "Zombieland," from the top of the box-office wethinks. And with good reason, the former is fucking terrible and everyone involved should be embarrassed.
In Wide Release: Ralphie from “A Christmas Story,” Peter Billingsley, finds his way to the director’s chair this week with “Couples Retreat.” The film follows four Midwestern couples who travel to a tropical resort to get help for their troubled marriages. The cast is semi-decent with Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Kristen Bell, and Jason Bateman among the struggling happily-ever-afters, but the trailer for this one screams MOR to us. Vaughn and Favreau co-wrote the script with Dana Fox, but its been a long time since their "Swingers" heyday. Despite sending a bunch of them to Bora-Bora for a junket, the critics are ready for an early return with a pitiful 11% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a 27 out of 100 score at Metacritic. It's really brutal and features one section that's just pure advertising for Guitar Hero that arrives in the picture for no reason other than some pay-to-display deal was made. It's also incredible unfunny. We might bother with a review because we scribbled one down.
In Limited Release: Danish director Lone Scherfig ("Italian For Beginners") makes her English-language debut this weekend with "An Education." Based on a screenplay by acclaimed novelist Nick Hornby ("High Fidelity",) the film stars Carey Mulligan as a 16 year-old Londoner in post-war, pre-Beatles England who meets a mysterious, much older suitor, played by Peter Sarsgaard, who promises to show her a glamorous world beyond her wildest dreams. We caught the movie months ago and thought it was a tremendous piece of work and a near-perfect film. We really like the Oscar chances for this one, especially Mulligan's performance, so if its playing near you definitely make some time to see it on the big screen. The cast also includes the great Alfred Molina and Emma Thompson and critics approve of the curriculum with a 88% fresh rating on RT and a 84 score from Metacritic.
Opening in New York and L.A. this weekend (though even the publicists thought it was next weekend, ugh) is Nicolas Winding Refn's gloriously theatrical and demented "Bronson," starring Tom Hardy as one of the most dangerous and notorious prisoner in the U.K. penal system. Comparisons have been made stylistically to Kenneth Anger and Stanley Kubrick and both of them are on the mark and yet, Winding Refn still creates something that feels wholly unique and wondrously absurd. Calling it this century's "Clockwork Orange," is reductive, but still not bad, considering "Bronson," will eventually have a very small release, but will surely go on to become a cult classic. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 76% score (not high enough frankly) and Metacritic gives it a 71 score. We'd put those numbers in the high 80s without question. A review hopefully shortly, but one of the better films of the year to be sure. It's wickedly arch.
Chris Rock's documentary "Good Hair" hits in limited release this weekend. Jeff Stilton directs the film, which explores the role of hair in African-American culture and identity. Rock is really one of the greatest living stand-ups, even if his films sometimes feel a little neutered. Despite claims that the idea was ripped off, the trailer looks great and we're really excited to check this one out over the weekend. Rotten Tomatoes is excited too, with a 90% fresh rating; Metacritic's score is 72.
Michael Sheen takes a break from playing Tony Blair to play another legendary Englishman in "The Damned United." Sheen plays Bryan Clough in Tom Hopper's film about Clough's doomed 44 day tenure as manager of the Leeds United football club. After brilliantly coaching other teams, Clough takes over Leeds from a bitter rival and chaos ensues. We saw the movie in Toronto and found it to be an enjoyable, unpretentious celebration of the sport. The solid cast also includes Jim Broadbent and Colm Meany. 'United' has a 91% fresh rating from RT and an 83 score from Metacritic.
Other options in limited release include Amos Gitai's film "Disengagement," starring Juliette Binoche. She plays Ana, a Frenchwoman who travels to Israel to search for the daughter she gave up at birth 20 years before. We haven't heard much in the way of buzz for this one and neither has Rotten Tomatoes, with no reviews in so far; Metacritic appears to not even be aware of the film. Also out, "Peter and Vandy" from director Jay DiPietro in an adaptation of his own stage play. Jess Weixler ("Teeth") and Jason Ritter star in the film, which shows the progression of a Manhattan couple's relation from promising beginning to manipulative normality. At the very least, it will have a good soundtrack. Critics are divided with a 58% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes and a 41 score from Metacritic.
"Capitalism: A Love Story" is every Michael Moore film that preceded it summed up in 120 minutes. And it's about as timely as any film released this year, if a little less timely than it would have been were it released, say, late last year.
And hating Michael Moore seems easy on the outside, the dulcet-toned voice seemingly dripping with storybook condescension, the politically partisan angles, the reductive stunts.
But calling Michael Moore duplicitous or a liar seems like its missing the fact that he's actually quite transparent.
While 'Capitalism' has its share of awful truths that Moore blanket wraps in easy to enjoy satirical tableauxs, the filmmaker essentially wears his heart on his sleeve for better or worse and what seems incredibly clear is his motivations stem from outrage.
'Capitalism' is Michael Moore's personality incarnate, a passionate zeal of agitprop that like many of his films is replete with lazy swipes, broadstroke flourishes and inspiring, call to arms flashes of brilliance.
Let's not kid ourselves, the documentary is his form of leftist, no Marxist propaganda and a very romanticized version of events, but he does make a compelling, if sometimes sloppy argument to the power of the people and waking up to smell the coffee.
One things for sure 'Capitalism' does not evince any new tricks in the filmmakers arsenal to skewer his subject, nor is it his most coherent, rousing or penetrating picture, but 'Capitalism' succeeds in its basic aims: to make you question and at least think about what happened last year with your money (we lost several thousand dollars), provoke outrage at the great economic swindle and make you laugh at the bitter ironies of it all.
Moore paints capitalism as a pervasive system that effects every level of American society: the pilots "paid less than a manager at McDonalds"; the curlicue mathematical formulas of derivatives and the implication of credit default swaps which have turned Wall Street into a giant casino; and the fraudulent life insurance policies companies like Wal-mart take out on their employees, enabling the conglomerates to make a small fortune with their passing while leaving the deceased families struggling to pay the bills. These are "Blue Chips," Moore observes, "not fly by night companies."
Throughout, Moore echoes one devastating line: "This is America"; he compares and contrasts what it was like for him growing up as part of a middle-class family in Flint, Michigan, and how it all went so wrong, tracing our hour of error to the election of pretty-boy President Ronald Reagan.
Of course, this is still firmly a Michael Moore film, so along with more tolerable affects like his sing-song narration and hyper-active montages, you also get tight close-ups of people crying on camera, underscored by blaring, synthetic string swells. And the stunts — oh the stunts — Moore takes megaphone in hand once again and instead of piloting a dinghy filled with confused looking 9/11 rescue workers through the waters just outside Guantanamo Bay, this time he confronts General Motors security guards and orders Goldman Sachs gatekeepers to fill his burlap sack with their bail-out money so he may return it to the American people.
Moore simples and distills — sometimes purposefully so Joe the plumber can understand (ostensibly and ironically, this film is a valentine to the middle class worker; many of who sadly won't bother to see the film); sometimes manipulatively to get his skewed point across and sometimes simply because this is what a no-nonsense type of man believes, but disingenuousness does not seem to be a trait he largely possess unless it's for comedic value.
These scenes, and the big culminating moment where Moore ropes off the New York Stock Exchange with crime scene tape, wreak of the same broad hokeyness that's weakened many of Moore's more effective docs. All we can say in the filmmaker's defense is that he never seems less than sincere in his aims to make a statement, however stupid the gesture.
But what gives "Capitalism: A Love Story" an added charge is the scope of the film, which revisits themes from almost all of Moore's previous work; the failure of General Motors he predicted in "Roger & Me," the continuing healthcare crisis he explored in "Sicko" a couple years ago, and his disdain for big corporations that don't serve the people, a righteous indignation which has earned him legions of supporters and fervent detractors.
Coming at the end of a decade which has seen Moore's rise and a backlash he's done his best to ignore, this film feels like a mostly intelligent, good intentioned effort to collect and collate his thoughts and present an enthusiastic indictment on the corrosiveness of political and corporate practices which have perpetuated the systemic failure of each enterprise he's previously targeted. Plenty of other filmmakers would have shaved off Moore's hammy indulgences and gags, further peeling back the rotting woodwork of the economic crisis and its causes. But this time around Moore's often detrimental extremism affords for just a few more eye-opening moments than it does provoke eye-rolls, and we've always found that's the best way to tally his final score. [B]