Monday, May 31, 2010

Five Shots: Peek

Opa! Eurovision etc

Did you all watch Eurovision over the weekend? I know, I know... silly question, because the answer is obviously "YES!" It's only one of the three greatest days of year and I had the pleasure this year to be surrounded by equally jubilant Eurovision loving people. Cheering and booing with each performance (or, in the case of Portugal, nobody even cared enough to shout abuse!) and gnashing our teeth as the results poured in. If you follow me on Twitter then you would have gotten my entire stream-of-conscious thoughts about the show ranging from the prevalence of wind machines, costume reveals, money notes, key changes AND pyrotechnics (occasionally all in the span of a few seconds) to my disappointment that Ruslana's "Wild Dances" can't represent Ukraine each and ever year.

I can't say I was a big fan of the winning entry from Germany, Lena's "Satellite", due to her propensity for weird vocal inflections (say hello to Paloma Faith and Gabriella Cilmi then), but she was miles better than second placing Turkey ("We Could be the Same" by maNga") or Belgium's John Mayer-lite (which says a lot) singer Tom Dice and his stupid "Me and My Guitar", which was getting so many big scores until they they, thankfully, only managed a sixth placing.

Watching these hosts was like watching an oddball combination of Juliette Binoche, Doogie Houser and Fuzzy Agolley that had somehow staggered their way to Oslo, Norway!

My absolute favourite of the evening was Romania's entrant, "Playing with Fire" by Paula Seling & Ovi, which managed to rally late in the game and place third. I was really hoping this track that was performed by some random dude and a Shania Twain lookalike in a catsuit on a duel perspex piano could win (there's even some popera in there for good measure), but Germany just stormed away with it. I even gave Romania a standing ovation after their performance, it was that incredible. You don't see adjoined perspex pianos very often and this one had magical qualities, too!

The other three that I was really cheering for were "Opa!" by Greece's entrant Giorgos Alkaios and Friends, "Je Ne Sais Quoi" from Iceland's resident dancefloor diva Hera Björk and The SunStroke Project's "Run Away" from Moldova. Greece did quite well early in the evening, but their support collapsed at the end they only managed eighth, meanwhile Iceland and Moldova had middling results polling 19th and 22nd respectively, which was sad. Even sadder when you consider countries like Belgium, Denmark and Armenia with their ode to apricots (no joke) all polled really well in contrast to their awfulness.

I liked her much more than her song. She was hilarious!

As always there were pleasant disasters and, as always, one was the UK. Their entry with "That Sounds Good to Me" by Josh Dubovie was spectacularly, hilariously dreadful and came an equally hilarious last place. It was a race to last place between the UK and Belarus (and their amazing butterfly costume reveal) with the latter pulling off 24th place to the former's 25th. The UK barely scraped through to double points, which in itself was surprising because several of us were thinking they were going to get nil pois for their "effort".

Watch the entries from Romania, Greece, Iceland and Moldova below. Moldova is particularly fun to watch since they have a fiddle taken directly out of Tron and thrusting saxophones! If you are American and don't get a chance to see Eurovision then I implore you to visit Eurovision's official YouTube page right now and watch them all. You won't regret it (well, maybe some of it).

And, yes, just because... Ruslana's "Wild Dances". It is still one of the most incredible things I have ever bared witness too.

Until next year from, er, sunny Germany...

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Wheels on the Truck Go 'Round and 'Round

It's funny how things just go in circles, isn't it? Several years ago when the fantastic-but-under-seen American thriller Joy Ride received its local Australian release it received a name change to Road Kill. It was also changed to Road Killer in Japan and Never Play With Strangers in Israel, but that's neither here nor there. The film is very good and you could do far, far worse in the teen thriller subgenre. Plus, it has this.

Anyway, back on point. The new Aussie horror flick Road Train is coming out sometime in 2010 and the film by Dean Francis is getting its world premiere tonight at the Dungog Film Festival. Can't wait to hear reactions since this supernaturally-themed thriller, which stars Xavier Samuel, Sophie Lowe and Bob Morley, could indeed be another Joy Ride quality thriller. Dare I suggest it could even be as good as Steven Spielberg's Duel? I think we're pushing it there.

Road Train - the name given to ultra-large trucks that roam the roads of this country - has been picked up by Fangoria Magazine in America and will screen in their "Fangoria FrightFest" according to Empire. The curious thing to note is that it will be receiving a name change and will go from being called Road Train to, er, Road Kill.

Going around in circles, aren't we? Are there no more titles left to choose from that they have to just keep recycling old ones and repurpose them for different countries?

I have included the trailer and it looks quite good. Sure, there's a bit of silliness on display - namely the use of the word "vastness" and "the truck took you" moment made me chuckle - but it looks like it actually has a budget and that they're going for some real genuine terror moments. Plus, looking at Xavier Samuel for 90 minutes is always going to boost a film's worth.

These Women's Work

Over at Trespass Mag it is "Women's Week" where we celebrate women (naturally). I was asked to write a piece on some of the best performances from the decade, and since I had recently just wrapped my Design of a Decade countdown it came quite easily. Within the piece I discuss 11 (I didn't know who to cut out) of my favourite performances of the decade including Nicole Kidman in Birth (if I keep hammering it into people's heads that she's great in it then maybe they will actually see it), Tilda Swinton in Julia ("so depraved and ridiculous, it verges on the insane",) Laura Dern in INLAND EMPIRE ("a performance so completely out there that she’s practically orbiting Neptune",) and others. So go on and have a read.

And because I used one of her song titles in the post title and she's just as awesome as all the ladies mentioned within, here is Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work". It's from the John Hughes-directed film She's Having a Baby and despite it being quite sad, the video is a hoot. Maxwell can fuck off with his R&B version that everyone somehow thinks is the original. Blerg.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shanghai Surprise

Typically when a movie gets delayed by up to two years and is being distributed by a studio that couldn't even get some decent-looking poster designs up for big time Oscar contenders I would expect the posters to be drab and boring. Such is not the case with Shanghai, a movie that has been hanging around the Weinstein vault for, surely, nearly two years just hanging by a thread to hopes of Oscar dreams due to its prestigious cast and exotic setting.

It appears to finally be receiving a release and, while nobody will care, I do quite like the poster. It is nothing spectacular, but it gets the job done in selling the movie. I like the colours and how it looks as if its been painted, which you can tell from the dimpled texture that it has (if you click the image you can see better as to what I'm talking about). Sure, it has stripes and stripes are bad, but at least the bottom stripe has this wonderful image in it that really does look hand-painted. And they even stuffed something into the empty space in the top part!

Again, it won't change anything, but it's a nice image to sell your exotically-flavoured film on and, hey, at least it's better than the images the Weinstein brothers put up to see Nine or A Single Man!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Don't Be Daft

My mind can, at times, act like a jukebox. Random songs randomly popping up in quick succession with no rhyme or reason. Daft Punk has, for some reason on the inner-workings of my brain synapses could explain, have been on a repetitive loop for several days now. They're very good, aren't they? Blood excellent would be a more apt descriptor.

While I've hammered out Homework, Discovery and even the underrated Human After All quite a bit these past few days, it is Alive 2007 that has gotten the most repeat action on the speakers. The only thing better than "Superheroes" (my favourite Daft Punk track) is the Alive 2007 mashup between "Superheroes" and "Human After All" in a near six-minute bass-thumping extravaganza of ever-mounting beats. Below is a poorly-filmed video of the concert sequence - Alive 2007 is a live concert album, but better than most others since they actually rework all the tracks and give them new life - that makes me wish the concert had been filmed and released theatrically in 3D. I can imagine that light show flying at me at 180bpm like the "I Love New York" sequence in Madonna's equally-addictive Confessions Tour.

I've also included the Alive 2007 single release of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" which single handedly returned Daft Punk to the charts and clubs. It's anthemic, isn't it?

Speaking of Daft Punk, I cannot wait to hear the material they have written for TRON Legacy. The movie is out in December, but hopefully we will get to hear the soundtrack earlier than that. I am hoping it is incredible and that they get nominated for Oscars and get to perform on stage in their giant rave pyramid. That'd certainly shake things up, wouldn't it? I didn't like the original Tron from 1982, but I hold out hope for this sequel. It looks a lot like Speed Racer, which I enjoyed greatly because of how deranged it was and because I felt like my eyes were being stood on by leprechauns.

What's In The Box: Revisiting Se7en

I decided to rewatch David Fincher's Se7en today. Spur of the moment it was, it just popped up in my head. I've always really loved that movie, but I was actually intrigued to see how it held up after 15 years and a good five years or so since I last watched it. Thankfully, silly title and all, the movie remains very good, but I doubt that, if I saw it for the first time today, I would have been quite as enthusiastic as I was years ago.

Se7en retains its status as one of the most original serial killer movies, I think that's safe to say. It would also rank as one of the best thrillers ever made, too, but I have some issues. The setting is, at times, too dank for its own good. As atmospheric as it is, especially when set to Howard Shore's score, there's something unappealing about making this already quite sick tale even more nauseating. The film's best scene for me is the entirety of the third act, and it works so well because it breaks out from the oppressive scenery that has engulfed the rest of the film by that point. It's like my eyes are being rewarded. There's only so many dilapidated buildings, dripping ceilings and exposed wires I can look at. Typing that out sounds so silly since I'm writing about a movie that features one of the most disturbing scenes I have ever watched ("Sloth", naturally).

As far as negatives go, however, I really do think that's about it. Sure, I might have cared for a little bit less of the Morgan Freeman is a sad sack stuff, but it is at least there for advance the film and not to just make audiences miserable. This time around I noticed for a film noir influence, especially in the character of Somerset, with his fedora hat and droll quips and his monotone narration. His character's one-week-until-retirement-i-hope-i-don't-die situation is, perhaps, on the nose, but at least they didn't make Brad Pitt's character a fresh-faced rookie and went out of their way to make us aware that he has been doing this for many years. It helps to flesh out Pitt's character who, at times, comes off as more childish than anything else.

I do wonder how it would go if made today. Would it be gorier? Would they focus on the killings much more than they did in 1995, and if they did would they be portrayed as sadistically as one imagines they would be?

Speaking of focusing on the murders, I also found it interested watching Se7en for the first time since having seen David Fincher's other serial killer movie, Zodiac from 2007, that they are opposites of sorts. In Se7en we don't actually see any of the truly grisly torturous parts and the film goes out of its way to be as thorough as possible, whereas Zodiac shows the murders in intricate detail and also never quite resolves anything. While I'm not sure what that says about Fincher, I think it makes a fascinating study nonetheless. Another opposing method can be found in the characters played by Kevin Spacey and John Carroll Lynch. Whether you believe the latter is the Zodiac killer or not is besides the point, the film sure wants to position Lynch as it, and in that regard he is very much the opposite of Spacey's "John Doe". One is obvious, the other vague, and they each go to reaffirm what kind of movies they are in.

Se7en is far more "traditional" in the sense that it has its beginning, middle and end and everything it does it does well. Zodiac, as I remember it, does everything well, but "everything" isn't necessarily everything that makes a compelling movie. I really liked Zodiac, don't get me wrong, but I think it's worth noting that Se7en was a big box office hit whereas Zodiac was not and the latter eschews many conventions that make a popular movie. Did David Fincher deliberately make Zodiac as a reply to Se7en? Did he want to give the finger to people who had followed him into rather mainstream territory on films such as Se7en and Panic Room by throwing them a curveball that they couldn't see coming? If that's the case how does one explain The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?

And while we're on the issue of Fincher, his career is both fascinating and increasingly worrisome. He has The Social Network with Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake out later this year, but after that who knows. According to IMDb he is attached to 12 titles some of which include an American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a remake of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and something called Black Hole, which I can only assume is a science fiction movie. You certainly cast say he's lazy, but I hope he can churn out something as original and riveting as Se7en again soon.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Five Shots: Under Construction

Not a Music Video

After the one-two punch of incredible-yet-incredibly-violent music videos in the form for "Stress" and "Born Free" (for Justice and M.I.A. respectively) the first feature film of Romain-Gavras was always going to catch people's attention. What better way to announce yourself than by making a movie starring Vincent Cassel and having a trailer that features nothing more than the sound of an air-raid siren over scenes of what looks to be urban warfare? It's called Notre jour viendra and the trailer is below.

notre jour viendra - feature film trailer from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dancing On Her Own

The video clip for what I think is the best song of the year (so far) has finally been released. It is for Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" and the song is beautiful and incredible. The video is your standard "I am in a club, watch me dance, oh no now I'm in a studio somewhere" types, but I love the cinematography of it. It's definitely a "dance while crying" sort of song, which I am almost always guaranteed to fall in love with.

Watch the video below.

Robyn 'Dancing On My Own' (Official Video) from Robyn on Vimeo.

Great Moments in Cinema for 2010

The trailer for Taylor Hackford's Love Ranch was just released. If you watch it (below for YouTube or Apple) then I am sure you will easily be able to pinpoint the moment that made me sit up and go "YES! I'M SO THERE!" It's the moment to the left featuring Gina Gershon and Bai Ling. I wasn't even aware that these two icons of trash were in it - alongside Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci no less - and there's now no way I am going to miss Love Ranch.

Sure, the trailer gives away far too much, but it looks visually exciting and thematically quite interesting give or take the boxing stuff, which has been done to death. Still, Gina Gershon and Bai Ling in a movie together means I will be there with bells on. Or, perhaps more appropriately, be there with pasties.

And because I think it's so good here they are again!

And again.

And once more.


Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street
Dir. Samuel Beyer
Year: 2010
Aus Rating: MA15+
Running Time: 94mins

It had to happen. The last of the big 1980s horror franchises to receive the Hollywood remake treatment is A Nightmare on Elm Street. Originally conceived as a horror film about the power of the subconscious from the mind of genre pioneer Wes Craven, the franchise eventually descended into never-ending sequels that were more interested in laughs than scares. Unfortunately for filmgoers, this 2010 incarnation of the famed series is a humourless and scare-free bore.

Read the rest Trespass Mag

There were so many issues with this movie that I couldn't put them all into my word limit. I really just couldn't believe that despite everything they had at their fingers - a series worth of memorable kills to drawer from plus a budget and improved effects - all Freddy seemed to do was show up behind someone to the sound of big loud crash sound effect and then carve them up. Nothing to it. So boring. I just wanted him to do something. And, furthermore, I think Jackie Earle Haley was entirely miscast. Hire an actual actor and do that to him? All he does he stand around. Occasionally he walks around the room, but that's about it. And his voice, ugh, his voice. And, dear filmmakers, when I go see a slasher movie I do not want five minute long scenes devoted to hearing about how a man likes to rape little children. Disgusting.

I have soured on this movie even more since seeing it on Wednesday. It's not quite as bad as the Friday the 13th remake, but it's bad. Really bad. D

Speaking of the Friday the 13th remake, over at Trespass Mag I also have a piece on modern day horror remakes where I throw some praise on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead and, ahem, House of Wax, while eviscerating Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. I ran out of words to write about Psycho, but that movie has been on my brain quite a bit lately so I might just have to write about it anyway. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Xavier Samuel is All Alone

I've been quietly following Xavier Samuel and his recent ascension to American films with his role in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. While I would have obviously preferred he got his quote unquote big break in something, ahem, more to my tastes than Eclipse, I think it's great that he's making a name for himself since audiences in Australia clearly weren't interested in any of the movies he was making (including quality work such as Septemper or queer surfing flick Newcastle).

I didn't, however, expect him to get a film poster all to himself though! That's pretty awesome for someone who is, quite literally, an unknown to roughly 99% of the audience. He looks Photoshopped to oblivion, but that just seems to be increasingly horrifying aspect of the world that we can't escape. I prefer to remember Xavier in, let's say, sunnier terms (oh my, that's a little bit NSFW, isn't it?) but I'm all for actors I like being able to get this sort of lift off to their career. I really hope this and The Loved Ones propels him much higher.

I just wish it didn't remind me of the poster for Land of the Dead.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Disappearing Thrills

For all the talk about the Australian film industry being in dire straits and its only foreseeable saviour being genre cinema, we seem to be doing a bloody good job of botching it up. Ever since Greg McLean's Wolf Creek debuted at #1 at the box office and became one of the biggest hits of the decade, Australian film commentators have harped on endlessly about how we need to make more horror/thriller titles because, so we're lead to believe, that's what audiences want. Not grungy dramas about drug addicts (well, nobody wants those either). But, yes, despite all this commentary back-and-forth on the topic there has been an almost comical amount of horror flops littering the limited release circuit of Australian cinemas.

The latest to join the list is Christopher Smith's Triangle. Released in October of 2009 in the UK - it was an Australian/UK co-production - it only just received the barest of releases here and has promptly vanished without a trace, barely scraping past $10,000 at the local box office. All of that on the back of actual good reviews, too, which may have given its local distributor faith if it hadn't have already flopped in the UK. Still, it's hard to believe that they couldn't do something to turn its hometown fortunes around.

Good reviews certainly didn't help the incredible Black Water from directors Andrew Traucki and David Nerlich in 2008, nor did they help 2009's Lake Mungo. These two plus Triangle have Rotten Tomatoes scores of 81%, 80% and 91% respectively (no Metacritic scores exist for any, unfortunately) but grossed only $111,000, $90,000 and $10,000 accordingly. I'm not exactly sure what happened that gave distributors and exhibitors such little faith in them. Lake Mungo came before the superficially similar Paranormal Activity, and was a better film, too. Black Water, a hit in the Northern Territory but not even released elsewhere, was unfortunate to come on the heels of under-performing Rogue, Greg McLean's similar big killer crocodile movie that was his follow-up to Wolf Creek. It's not even that they came from tiny distributors and, thus, couldn't afford marketing. Black Water even had a massive crocodile blimp stunt!

Mere weeks after the Triangle debacle comes another off-the-radar horror title somehow hoping to ensnare audiences in its trap. John Jarratt, "Mick Taylor" in Wolf Creek, writes and stars in Savages Crossing, which is working its way around 12 national screens (thankfully, it is screening in Sorrento so let's all breathe a sigh of relief for our coastal buddies). I have not seen the film from director Kevin James Dobson (a man with an eclectic filmography to say the least), but almost everybody who has seems to believe it's one of the worst movies ever made in this country. The trailer, below, backs up this train of thought.

And yes, that is the actual movie poster for Savages Crossing.

It's hard to imagine that this will reverse the fortunes of other films such as Prey and Crush (three and one screen releases respectively, the former of which couldn't even pass $1000 at the box office!). Of course, there is the belief amongst some that all of the "ozploitation" titles - the films from the 1980s that satiated Aussie audiences' need for violence with (mostly) local talent - were big hits, which is just not the case. Brian Trenchard-Smith's Dead-End Drive In, one of the most acclaimed of the genre, played to empty cinemas on opening weekend in 1986.

Upcoming horror/thriller titles include The Reef and Bait 3D, both of which I have discussed before and Uninhabited about a couple on a deserted island that turns out to be anything but (trailer below). Sean Byrne's The Loved Ones is certainly poised to breakout, but things rarely go according to plan in the Australian film industry, whilst Needle (trailer below), Primal and Road Train could have success if handled right, but at least in regards to the first two there it doesn't look likely.

I'm sure a few of the titles up there will go direct-to-DVD just like No Through Road, Storage and Storm Warning. Spare a thought for Jamie Blanks' Long Weekend remake, which hasn't received a release of any kind whatsoever despite starring Jim Caviezel and Claudia Karvan. Or better yet, don't.

Speaking of Karvan, earlier this year we got Daybreakers from the directors of another little seen horror film, Undead. It made a respectable $2.5mil at the local box office on the back of its international campaign (so not so much negative cost, which is what hurts the small local films). It will be interesting to see how the films coming out this year and next can use the upswing of audiences for Australian movies to their advantage or if they will suffer the same fate as the rest. And if they don't will people keep making them? The likes of Tony Ginnane can hardly keep demanding Screen Australia fund them when they prove to be just as financially nonviable as movies like Accidents Happen or Blessed, which was the crux of the argument in the first place. This being an Australian funding body we all know they're rather crank out 17 movies just like Last Ride if they could.

"The Clinic"

I don't have an answer for the problem, I'm merely throwing it out there. I haven't got all the figures on hand, obviously, so I don't know how much (if any) money these independent production companies are making off of DVD sales both here and internationally. DVD sales and rental figures are scarcely made available (or I'm just not looking in the correct places.) Perhaps it's not as dire a situation as I am painting it, but it can hardly be all rose petals and rainbows. It does lead me to question why money (taxpayer or otherwise) isn't being put into the musical genre since that is one genre audiences here obviously love unequivocally. From The Adventures of Priscilla to Bran Nue Dae and Mao's Last Dancer ($7.5mil and $15mil grosses respectively in the past year), there is clearly a bigger demand for them.

Let's see how the rest of 2010 holds up and we'll see where we're at come December. I hope to be able to report better news.

Savage Cows in 3D, I Love You

My monthy poster analysis is up at (the newly-redesigned) Trespass Mag in which I discuss some of the best and worst movie posters hanging in Aussie cinemas throughout the month of May. Although if you've seen the last poster in the article then I'll be surprised. Amongst the designs discussed are the incredible barcoded cow of Food, Inc. and the flat out ridiculous ones for StreetDance 3D and Savages Crossing. Head on over and have a say if you agree/disagree.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Review: Harry Brown

Harry Brown
Dir. Daniel Barber
Year: 2010
Aus Rating: MA15+
Running Time: 103mins

As the opening credits tell us, "Michael Caine is Harry Brown”. In response, here are some things that I think Harry Brown is. Repugnant. Offensive. Vile. Repulsive. Awful. Retched. Shameful. And most of all, just plain old bad. Unlike the similarly themed Australian film The Horseman, Harry Brown celebrates the ultra-violence it is thrusting upon audiences and thrives on it rather than condemns it and that is a disturbing thing.

Set predominantly around a lower-class British housing estate (you know the ones, big gray slabs with holes cut out for windows and a stove for making a hot watery substance that can scarcely be called "tea"), Harry Brown stars Michael Caine as a recently widowed senior citizen who decides to enact his own brand of justice on the hooligan youth culture that terrorises the estate and who sent his best friend Leonard (David Bradley) to a violent grave.

Reading that description may not sound like anything terribly offensive, sure, but once the surface is scratched (scratched as thinly as the plot will allow) there is a disturbing hypocrisy in its attitudes towards violence. At once decrying the violence that the thuggish youths act out - stabbings, bashings, fires and other antisocial behaviour - and cheering on the violence that the elder Harry Brown unleashes - shootings, bashings, fires and other antisocial behaviour - there is a distinctly unpleasant aura around the proceedings. Increasingly grotesque and repugnant in its imagery, Harry Brown director Daniel Barber and screenwriter Gary Young are simply having fun at the idea of this old gent brutally murdering thugs. Graphic blood splatters and torrents of blood overflow from each of Harry Brown's victims without even the slightest hint that we're meant to be condemning him for what he is doing. He was in Vietnam, you see, so I guess he's allowed?

The movie’s attitude towards the quote unquote youth of today is awfully narrow-minded. Even when one of the teenage louts is clearly shown being the victim of sexual abuse and rape it barely rates a mention. This lack of character development is detrimental. The aforementioned Vietnam reference is all that Barber gives us to somehow understand how Harry Brown could commit these acts. And of the gang’s leader Ben Drew sprouts phrases like “fucking cunt” a lot and that’s about it.

That I haven’t mentioned the acting or the crafts is a show of how much I really detested the movie’s themes, but if you really would like to know then I shall inform. Caine is competent in the lead role, but it never leaves the realm of “MICHAEL CAINE KILLING HOOLIGANS”. Emily Mortimer, the only other actor with a recognisable face, plays a police detective but is ineffective, plain and uninteresting, much like the drab visuals. I hardly expect a movie such as this to replicate the bright colours and extravagant visual splendour of Quentin Tarantino’s own revenge thriller Kill Bill, but if you’re going to present your tale as one of open revenge lust then the grungy look that this movie has is all wrong. It reminded me of Australian druggie drama West in its ability to be as equally repellent to look at as it is to think about.

In terms of British crime tales, The Bill this ain't, but nor does it present a truly compelling tale of a man whose only option is revenge. In the end the film's abhorrent politics had my mind doing back flips long before the film's final scene, a moment that is so hopelessly clueless that it just compounds the issues at. As Harry Brown walks through the once-dangerous underground tunnel that was the scene of so much violence, are we now supposed to think that it is filled with light, happiness, promises and rainbows? That's what that film would have us believe and therein lays more problems. Barely scratching the surface of a very real and pertinent issue, but using it as the backbone for a grubby slaughter fest. Mr Brown is having his cake and eating it too. This film wants to pretend to be “important” and “about something” but is then more interested in filling the screen with icky violence than telling a story about a man truly haunted by violence. Even the movie poster is all but telling audiences "Michael Caine kicks arse!" It is all incredibly unappealing. F

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: Robin Hood

Robin Hood
Dir. Ridley Scott
Year: 2010
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 140mins

There are very few directors who get their name plastered all over the marketing materials for their films. Ridley Scott is one of those few and with masterpieces such as Alien, Blade Runner and Thelma & Louise to his name he’s certainly deserved it. Unfortunately he has spent the majority of the last decade making disaster after disaster, whittling away the goodwill he has accumulated. The latest in his stretch of bad films is this dire retelling of Robin Hood. Billed as “the untold story behind the legend”, there’s good reason for that; It’s bad. Really bad.

Read the rest at Trespass Mag

So very, very bad. Although I still think Kingdom of Heaven was a far more boring movie than this, Robin Hood is actually much more of a mess. The best bit was when Rusty got his clothes off, I guess. D

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Piece of Work

This is the poster (to the left, to the left) for the new documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, which I can't even begin to tell you all how much anticipation I have. Below is the trailer and it makes it look fantastic, so here's hoping it actually is. That joke about Osaba Bin Laden at the end is a killer. But, then again, if you're not a fan of Joan Rivers then I doubt you'll find much funny within, nor will you want to seek the movie out for even the non-funny stuff.

I hope it gets a release here soon, or at the very least a berth at MIFF. Yes, please.

Duelling Draculas

They always come in pairs. Cinema history is littered with cases where movies about volcanoes (Dante's Peak / Volcano), asteroids (Deep Impact / Armageddon), strippers (Showgirls / Striptease), battling insects (Antz / A Bug's Life), siblings with issues about their disabled brother (Clubland / The Black Balloon) and sadistic horror shows based on works of fiction (The Passion of the Christ / Shrek 2). I could go on and on, but I won't. One is usually much better than the other (as for that last example, they're both as bad as each other) and one usually does much better than the other at the box office.

Somehow these movies get the greenlight at precisely the same moment in time and end up being released mere months or so apart. Such is the way Hollywood rolls, I guess.

Now we're set for the battle of duelling Draculas in two new films being filmed soon. First we have Alex Proyas' Dracula Year One that was announced a while back and is set to star Sam Worthington. Today then came news that horror legend Dario Argento is set to wade into the pool of Dracula blood with Dracula 3D. The latter has been quoted as being "a faithful translation of the Bram Stoker novel." If you say so.

Do we really need two more retellings of Bram Stoker's Dracula tale? I'm not so sure about "need", but these two both have things going for them that, for instance, Blade Trinity or Underworld 17, which features vampire and lycans battling each other for supremacy against an army of rampaging mummies, because I imagine that's the only unexplored option for that horrible franchise. In the corner for Dracula Year One will be that we finally get director Alex Proyas returning to the Gothic nature of his fest films The Crow and Dark City. None of this silly Knowing nonsense anymore please, Mr Proyas. You're better than that.

As for Dracula 3D? Well, if the idea of a Dracula movie in 3D as directed by Dario Argento doesn't interest you then nothing else I can say will. Let's just hope that this "faithful" retelling is as opulent as Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula. I know that 1992 film wasn't "faithful" at all, but if ever a movie was made that made me want to experience nothing more than the sets and costumes in 3D then that was it.

Sadie is not impressed.

Of course, one has to wonder why these have both been greenlit. Studios are apparently still under the silly idea that just because the Twilight "saga" is popular then so will anything with vampires. Not the case. Daybreakers, 30 Days of Night and others can attest to that. And since none of these films, particularly the latter, will actually be aimed at the audience of Twilight then I can't imagine the studio is expecting anything more than mid-century grosses like the Underworld films or the last Blade film. And as Alex Proyas has proven, he can't get a hit movie unless it's braindead (like a vampire?) and bombastic (I, Robot and Knowing being examples) so I don't hold out hope.

It will be interesting to see how Let Me In, the American remake of Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In (which grossed $2mil, that's right - where were the Pan's Labyrinth audiences for that culty flick?) goes. I can't imagine it will do well enough to crack the upper echelon of highest grossing vampire flicks. As for Dracula 3D. As long as there's a moment where Dracula bites through the screen and blood appears to poor down the exterior of the 3D glasses I will be happy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Review: New York, I Love You

New York, I Love Your
Dir. Fatih Akin, Yvan Attal, Allen Hughes, Shunji Iwai, Wen Jiang, Joshua Marsden, Mira Nair, Brett Ratner, Randall Balsmeyer, Shekhar Kapur & Natalie Portman
Year: 2010
Aus Rating: MA15+
Running Time: 103mins

One city, ten directors and a cast of familiar faces await audiences of New York, I Love You. This follow-up to Paris je t’aime, a surprise box office hit that saw famous directors craft odes to the city of love, will leave many disappointed. This so-called love letter to the Big Apple is a fizzer that doesn’t even come close to approaching the joie de vivre of its Parisian ancestor.

Read the rest at Trespass Mag

I am a New York "tragic", it's true. I have been twice - plan to go again in the next few years, hopefully/maybe - and I love movies to be set in New York. A movie such as The Exploding Girl can be so much better than it has any right to be simply by being set in NYC and allowing me to drown myself in the images and sounds. Barely any of the vignettes in New York, I Love You give that feeling of being surrounded by life like actually being in New York does. My favourite was the Maggie Q/Ethan Hawke sequence, which felt like a "New York Moment" more than, say, Natalie Portman's awful Jewish wedding piece.

One thing I mention in the review is the lack of any queer substance whatsoever. Watching the movie and I felt as if they were going out of their way to feature as many cultures and yet somehow gay people got left out. And in a film about the gay capital of the world (to be token and cliched). I also find it hilarious that the producers cut Scarlett Johansson's piece because it "didn’t jive with the rest of the shorts." I definitely think this film could have used more pieces that played outside of the box like it sounds ScarJo's did. Ah well. C-

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Well Played, Poster: Carlos

Following Cédric Succivalli on Twitter pays dividends. Not only do you get up-to-date and breaking news on the Cannes Film Festival, but also links to things such as this poster for Olivier Assayas' Carlos from D*Hollywood.

Now, Carlos is actually a TV miniseries, but will be screening at Cannes in its entire 5.5hr version. I had no idea what Carlos was about - Assayas is a filmmaker that drifts in and out of my orbit, I imagine if more of his films were available on DVD then he might enter it permanently - but after looking at this poster I figured "something to do with terrorism." Turns out I was right. Good job, poster!

It's a corker, isn't it?

If you want to be cruel you could say it apes the poster for Terminator Salvation (although I'm sure that was ripping off something else that I can't recall), but I appreciate that a film such as Carlos can do it (and better).