Monday, August 31, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Here's a few rules, right off the bat; these are second films only, no third or fourth installments (so don't look for Goldfinger, or Casino Royale), and finally, there are no "pre-planned" sequels here (so don't look for Harry Potter movies, the Lord of the Rings films, or Superman II). I'm talking real, unadulterated sequels in the classic sense.
Ready? Let's start with numbers 10-6:
10 – Spider-Man 2 – A recurring point in this list is going to be the fact that all of these sequels take the original films and add a greater degree of complexity along with dialling up the more enjoyable aspects that made the first film a success. Spider-Man 2 is no exception, boasting a stronger and more emotionally charged story, a more tragic and captivating bad guy in Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, and in Sam Raimi, a director at the absolute peak of his confidence and prowess. The operating room scene is vintage Evil Dead-type Raimi, while the elevated train action set piece is superbly constructed and executed.
9 – Terminator 2: Judgement Day – The first film was basically an ingenious riff on the stalker/slasher films that dominated the 1980s, spruced up with some really cool visual effects and an iconic performance by Arnold Schwarzenegger. While the first film contained some great action sequences and some nifty sci-fi concepts at its core, the sequel took all of that and ran with it. Linda Hamilton morphed from helpless victim into ripped paranoid hard ass, Arnie morphed from bad guy into good guy and Robert Patrick just plain morphed as the T-1000. Not only did its visual effects literally change film forever, but it also was way riskier with the implications of its time travel pretzel plot, and its examinations of fatalism and consequence.
8 – Bride of Frankenstein – After the first film was a hit for a depression-era Universal studios, director James Whale was given pretty much free reign to create a follow up, and he took that reign and went as far as he possibly could. The result is a film that is simultaneously weirder, scarier, more tragic and way funnier than its predecessor. Karloff continues to build on his legendary role but the creation of Dr. Pretorius, as played by Ernest Thesiger, is the film’s most genius move, providing the film with a villain that is both repellent and utterly fascinating.
7- Evil Dead 2 – Raimi and star Bruce Campbell went back into the woods to create a sequel that is so utterly unconcerned with the first film that it’s really more of a remake. Their desire was simply to make the first film scarier, gorier and strangely enough, funnier. And they succeed on all fronts, crafting a film that is basically a macabre, gory cartoon with an idiot for a hero tormented by demons that have watched a lot of Three Stooges shorts. It’s made all the more remarkable by the sheer brilliance of Campbell’s performance and by Raimi’s incredible skill at using the camera in a hyper kinetic way.
6 – The Bourne Supremacy – You know a spy film has really hit the mark when it becomes a major influence on the granddaddy of spy films, the James Bond franchise. Paul Greengrass took the Bourne series in a new direction, visually, as he put you inside fight scenes and car chases, forcing the viewer to experience them as a mad and vertiginous flurry of movement, much as the participants do. And, like many sequels, the subject matter was darker and more intense than the previous film, anchored by Matt Damon’s underrated portrayal of the tormented and irrevocably traumatized central character.
What’ll be in the top five? See you soon to find out.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
JESUS CHRISTOS! What the fuck was that? Why would you do that? Look, I'm not sure what the fuck is going on in Asia, but you all need to stop making robots do this kind of shit. Stop it.
Brrrrrr, I won't be sleeping tonight.
Monday, August 24, 2009
In all seriousness, the teaser for Christopher Nolan's next film, entitled Inception, has been released and it looks really fascinating to me. Nolan has apparently said that it's set within the architecture of the mind. While I have no idea what the fuck that means, it just sounds cool doesn't it?
By the way, I love that photo there. It's a photo of three guys who are all saying, "Hey, it fucking rocks to be rich and famous doesn't it? Yes it does. Who's up for cocaine and blow jobs?"
The cast is awesome; DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, and (because Nolan seems incapable of making a film without him) Michael Caine.
Gordon-Levitt had this to say recently:
Here’s the thing… I cant wait to talk to you about [Inception] but I’ve been very specifically asked not to talk about it. I want to respect [director Chris Nolan's wishes] because I love his movies and I’m so honored and grateful to be working with him. He’s got a really specific idea and way he wants people to be presented with this thing.
It just sounds cool. The last movie Nolan made in between Bat-flicks was the underrated The Prestige, so I'm looking forward to this:
The studio is blaming fourth quarter financial woes for the move, and have stressed that it has nothing to do with the film itself, which has strong buzz and had received some early praise in test screenings. The move does mean that Paramount has no other high-profile film opening this fall until December, which sees Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones open. The studio has encountered this problem before, blaming financial concerns when they rescheduled The Soloist and Defiance last year. Neither film enjoyed critical or box office success as a result. Ironically, that decision was made to ostensibly free up marketing dollars for, among other films, Revolutionary Road, a DiCaprio film that did not fare well with the box office or during awards season.
So now they move Shutter Island from the fall, where it's got a chance to open strong and pick up some award buzz, to February. February. What was the last film that opened in February that picked up a bunch of awards? Can't recall? That's because February is a trash month for movies. A lot of studios dump their stuff then, saving their blockbusters for spring/summer and their Oscar bait for fall/winter.
Some are saying this is being done to make room for Up in the Air, the Jason Reitman directed, George Clooney starring film that doesn't have a solid release date as of yet, but is garnering buzz. shows how connected I am, this movie wasn't even on my radar.
Personally, I think it's a bad move. It dumps on two big players in Hollywood, and Scorsese has said that if this hurts the picture, he may reconsider ever working with Paramount again. DiCaprio has to be pissed off, too. If Up in the Air or The Lovely Bones (which is a far riskier film) tanks, then they'll have nothing for awards season.
So, this means that yet another film I put in a list of fall movies I am looking forward to is not coming out this fall. Maybe I'm bad juju.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
And on we go:
2 - Shutter Island (Oct. 2) - I read the Dennis Lehane novel on which this film was based, and I recall thinking at the time what a great movie it would make. The story takes place in 1954, as a pair of US Marshalls come to an isolated insane asylum looking for a homicidal patient that has disappeared and uncovering some sinister goings on, all as a hurricane bears down on them. It's a sort of hybrid story, beginning as a hard boiled mystery and quickly descending into a dark psychological thriller and finally into a kind of Gothic horror tale. It's the type of film that Martin Scorsese has never directed before, the closest equivalent being Cape Fear. The story is enough to get you in the door, and Marty's presence amps the anticipation to a huge degree. When you add in the cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michele Williams and Jackie Earle Haley, and you've got what could turn out to be an unforgettable thriller.....or a godawful mess. Still, if you love film, you're waiting for this one.
1 - The White Ribbon (Dec. 25) - There's no doubt that Michael Haneke is one of the most controversial directors around, being either revered or reviled depending on whom you talk to. Personally, I like directors like this, it means they're at least bold and possessed of some sort of clear vision. As for his films, I've liked what I've seen (Cache, The Piano Teacher) an awful lot, but I'm a little scared to dive into his other films (Funny Games, Code Unknown) after hearing negative reviews from people I trust. Still, his latest film, which won the Palme D'or at Cannes this year, sounds like an amazing experience. It tells the tale of a small German community in 1914 that begins to experience ever escalating moments of violence and brutality perpetrated by unknown parties. As more is reveled, the audience is shown a community that seems bucolic but is in fact stern, cruel and unyielding. Is the community being punished for something? Many people have noticed that the children the story focuses on would grow to form the backbone of Nazi Germany, but Haneke has said that the film is actually about the origin of every type of terrorism, be it of political or religious nature. It looks absolutely mesmerizing.
So those are the ones I'm dying to see. But here's a selection of other films coming out that look pretty great in their own right: Pandorum, Bright Star, The Invention of Lying, A Serious Man, Zombieland, Amelia, Antichrist, The Men Who Stare at Goats, 9, Brothers.
Gonna be a big Fall!
So, without further ado,
I still can't wait to see it.
7 - Nine (Nov. 25) - 8 1/2 is one of the best movies ever made. It's certainly the best movie about making movies that has ever been made. It's perhaps the masterpiece of Federico Fellini, and that was a guy who had a few absolutely brilliant films under his belt. Nine is the musical version of that film. Before you get all snooty about remaking a classic, you should know the musical debuted on Broadway in 1982, when it ran for over 700 performances and won five Tonys, including best musical. Now Rob Marshall, who, it must be said, knows a thing or two about musicals, takes it to the big screen. What really makes this cool is who takes on the main role of Guido; Daniel Day Lewis (otherwise known as The Fucking Man).
6 - Precious (Nov. 6) - Lee Daniels directs this adaptation of Push, an autobiographical novel by Sapphire. It tells the harrowing and yet still elating story of Precious Jones, an overweight teenager growing up in Harlem and trying to survive being impregnated twice by her father and a hateful relationship with her mother. It won awards at Sundance and was screened in competition at Cannes. Receiving great reviews from papers like Variety, this could be the little film that blows everyone away this year.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Here's an awesome clip that aptly and hilariously shows how every guy feels the day after the first night with a gal he's crazy for:
Best use of a Hall and Oates song ever. Sorry, The Wedding Singer, but it's true.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
This could be great news for comic book fans, as Alan Moore's run on Marvelman is believed to be the finest example of his deconstructionist approach to superheroes, besting even the much lauded Watchmen.
If you're on this site, and you don't know who Alan Moore is, well, shame on you. Moore began working as an underground cartoonist in 1970s England, before abandoning art and focusing solely on writing. After short stints writing strips for Doctor Who and the legendary British anthology comic 2000 AD, he began writing Captain Britain for Marvel UK. His 2000 AD strip, The Ballad of Halo Jones, was one of the most popular in the magazine, but Moore's outspoken and fierce commitment to creator's rights would soon force him to leave the series behind, as it would with almost every major publisher in the comic book world.
In 1982, he began writing for a new British anthology series called Warrior. Moore contributed two strips that would become legendary; V for Vendetta and Marvelman, the latter being Moore's take on a once-popular British rip-off of Captain Marvel. Unfortunately, Warrior folded before either of those stories were completed. Still, they were successful enough to gain American attention, and DC Comics hired Moore to revitalize their Swamp Thing series, which Moore did to startling effect, changing a tired horror series into a bizarre and mind bending tale of spirituality, ecology, and the flexible nature of love. During this time, DC reprinted Moore's uncompleted V for Vendetta series, allowing him to complete the story, and he worked on several of DC's big characters such as Batman and Superman.
Then, in 1986, came Watchmen. Moore, who had already been touted as among the most gifted comic book writers of his generation, was now a full-fledged visionary to readers. Coinciding with this, however, was the deterioration of his working relationship with DC, and the publisher would not get Marvelman. Instead, Moore took his magnum opus to a small publisher called Eclipse. The name of the character, and the book, was changed to Miracleman to avoid friction with Marvel Comics, who were litigious when it came to comic books with "marvel" on the cover. Picking up five years after he had originally been forced to abandon the series, he completed the story once and for all. However, after 16 issues he handed the reigns over to Neil Gaiman, who wrote the character until Eclipse folded in the 1990s.
And that's when the fun starts. Here's a good summary from a recent article:
The character was created by British writer and artist Mick Anglo in the 1960s. Years later it was revived by Warrior magazine and written by Alan Moore (back before he was Watchman [sic] writer Alan Moore). Neil Gaiman eventually took over the writing duties and the Moore's Warrior stories and then new stories, first from Moore and then from Gaiman, were released in North America by Eclipse Comics but with the name changed from Marvelman to Miracleman to avoid ticking off Marvel Comics.
But Eclipse folded and eventually (Todd) McFarlane bought the Eclipse intellectual properties believing he was also purchasing Miracleman. But Gaiman, who under a bizarre ownership structure believed he owned the rights, fought McFarlane on it...
This whole thing kept the character in complete limbo without even reprints of the character being allowed, which, of course, means any back issues and collections have been going for big money on eBay and illegal downloads are also being circulated online.
So how did this all get resolved? Well according to Marvel and Gaiman, when they looked at all the agreements over the years they concluded the rights were actually still held by Anglo. So Marvel made a deal with the Brit to buy Marvelman from him.
This will apparently allow Marvel to release the back issue stuff and create new material with the character.
However, Marvel's claim to back issues, especially the ones written by Moore and Gaiman, are far from certain at this point, what with a recently released, Quesada drawn, picture of MM (seen below) depicting him in his original costume, before it was updated during Moore's tenure.
So, maybe they only have the rights to the character pre-Warrior, which is pretty lame.
But, is it all worth the hype? Well, I just read Moore's entire run on the series for the first time through a website that will go unnamed. Maybe it's because I'm more familiar with Watchmen, Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but I honestly believe the series to be Moore's best, boldest and most richly satisfying work. It has literally blown my mind. I'm actually hesitant to read Gaiman's arc, because Moore's run was some of the most perfect work I've ever read in the genre.
Here's hoping Marvel publishes a nice big, beautiful hardbound edition that we can all cherish.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Done? Okay. What....the...fuck?
Seriously, I'm becoming more and more convinced that, as a society, we have lost our fucking minds. I've read that article a few times, and I'm still stunned. Basically a principal of a school pulled one of the classics of 20th Century literature because one parent (one) objected to a racial epithet spouted in the book. To Kill A Mockingbird. One of the greatest pleas for racial equality ever written. I'll simplify it for you; the book is about how racism is bad. This ain't Merchant of Venice, which I'll admit is questionable in its racist overtones. This is like censoring a speech by Martin Luther King.
And since when does one parent make a decision regarding the curriculum of an entire school? When that parent came in and made that demand the principal should have tossed a copy of the novel at them, told them to read it and then to come back a write a fucking book report. Christ, I'd settle for them renting the fucking movie.
"Holy shit, it's Robert Duvall!" is not the only realization you should come to.
This comes on the heels of an ever-increasing stack of evidence that we, as a species, may be, in scientific terms, batshit insane. What evidence you may ask?
Well, take a look at the debate that currently rages over health care in the U.S. and you will be treated to the most self-destructive and nonsensical rhetoric outside of a Twilight fan forum run by teenaged cutters.
Look, to be honest, I'm not sure there is a perfect health care system. I live in Canada and there are certainly problems here, even with our highly touted system. First off, the system seems to require more and more funds just to operate every year. It's incredibly expensive, and that cost comes from the taxpayers. Secondly, there are some wait times for non-emergency or non-life threatening care. But if you ask the average Canadian if they'd rather have the health care system they currently have or the system the U.S. currently has (or rather, doesn't have) pretty much every single Canadian would look at you with stark terror in their eyes, slap your face and insist you gag yourself for uttering such crazy-ass bullshit.
I'm not sure that Obama's plan is the perfect one. But when you live in the only country in the developed world that allows its citizens to be financially ruined over health care, surely any sort of plan that helps prevent that is better than what you have? If it's socialism that's bugging you, let me tell you this; you've got public education, you've got public works projects, you've got medicare and welfare and government funded armed forces. Government run health care is no different. And to everyone concerned about the private health care industry, well, I think they've made it abundantly clear over the last few decades that they ain't concerned about you.
Recently, at Cracked.com, Chris Bucholz wrote a very funny satirical piece entitled How Socialized Health Care Works in Canada. Now, it was a comedic piece, and it highlighted how the fear mongering being done by some people in the States regarding our system was insane, and it did so well. But like all things on the interwebs, it made the unfortunate mistake of asking comments from the public without fully realizing that the public are, by and large, out of their goddamned gourds.
Like this one:
True, such a system would provide health care to the millions of people who can’t afford it. And yes, It would probably help lots of old people live even longer. But this brings up a very important question: Why should I care about them? Survival of the fittest. I’m not rich, and honestly I can’t afford health care. But it seems unfair for someone who has worked hard to get the money they have now to have to pay for me to go to the doctor. Besides, Americans would go apeshit if taxes went up.
This guy is a proponent of some sort of Mad Max-type solution where only the strong survive, and the everyone else can,well, die, I guess. Now, I'm used to this conservative view of "help no one but yourself" but note how this guy admits HE CAN'T AFFORD HEALTH CARE. It's a new level of fucked-up-ness to prefer a system whereby you suffer over a system whereby you don't.
Then there's this champ:
It’s very simple. If you want health care get off your dead ass and get a job. I work hard, I have insurance, I shouldn't have to pay for health care for some low-life dead beat who is too lazy or stupid to get a decent job.
Let's leave behind the fact that there are people in the States who have health insurance but get their claims denied all the time, or leave behind the insurance industry practice of approving someone for health insurance, collecting premiums and then, when you file a claim, looking for any evidence to retroactively deny your coverage. Awesome system, let's keep that.
I mean, I know we are all resigned to the fact that there are two certainties in life; death and taxes. But I've never heard of a nation of people choosing death over taxes. And that's crazy.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
"This is not about zombies popping out of closets," Stillerman said. "This is a story about survival, and the dynamics of what happens when a group is forced to survive under these circumstances. The world (in Walking Dead) is portrayed in a smart, sophisticated way."
Friday, August 7, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
In a list of the best writer/directors of the 1980s, Hughes is rarely mentioned, but upon review, he must be regarded as one of the great talents in American film of the decade, leaving behind a handful of films that have become staples of adolescent angst, and beloved films for a generation of film goers, including myself. He will be missed.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
He first gained notoriety as Kenny in Private Parts, but I first really noticed him in an otherwise crappy film called The Negotiator, in which he worked overtime to steal the movie away from everyone. And when you consider that the cast featured not only Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson, but a line up of character actors like JT Walsh, John Spencer, David Morse and Ron Rifkin, that takes some doing. That was in 1998, when he also appeared in The Truman Show and Saving Private Ryan, and became one of the distinguished "that guy"s in the pantheon of character actors.
That year he also appeared in a very bad TV movie called Tourist Trap, directed by Richard Benjamin and also starring Daniel Stern. It also featured yours truly in a small role. I sat next to Mr. Giamatti during lunch one day, and much to my eternal chagrin and regret, never spoke a word to him.
Over the next few years, the parts got bigger and bigger, with co-starring roles in Man on the Moon, Duets, Storytelling and Planet of the Apes, among others. But it was the one-two punch of his performances in American Splendor and Sideways that made everyone sit up and take notice. Somehow he was totally screwed over by the Oscars and wasn't nominated for either one of those (and it's really egregious for Sideways, since the film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and won Best Adapted Screenplay, and the fucking movie is ABOUT Giamatti's character!). They tried to make the snub right by nominating him for Best Supporting Actor the following year for Cinderella Man.
Still, now he became a name, a guy who can headline movies, in the indie world at least. I have loved him in pretty much everything, though it was hard in the case of The Lady in the Water (he was great, movie was terrible). He was unbelievably great in the recent HBO miniseries John Adams, which goes to show that while he may look like a character actor, he's got the magnetism of a leading man.
Now comes along Cold Souls, and judging by the trailer, we're going to see another great performance, possibly one that's better than the movie. Still I'm excited:
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
On Monday, three people were seen walking through the Tokyo streets to a robotics convention......with robot legs!
Here's how the article describes the scene:
Two men and a woman, wearing what looked like white plastic exoskeletons over black outfits, were testing -- at a pace of 1.8 kilometres (1.1 miles) an hour -- robotic suits designed to give mobility to the injured and disabled.
Look, I'm all for helping give mobility to the injured and/or the disabled. But that's how these things start. First of all, you know what these robotic legs are called? They're called a Hybrid Assistive Limb, or, you guessed it, HAL, for short. They named this after the most notable and well-spoken artificially intelligent villain in film history. But what do you expect from a company called Cyberdyne. Yep, the Japanese company is called Cyberdyne. Sound familiar? They also made this:
They named their frickin' company after the one that made the Terminators! And they make robots!!! Tempting fate. Tempting fate.
By the way, a robotics convention? That place would scare me more than a spider convention. Who attends a robotics convention, anyway?