Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nicole Falls to Pieces

Here is a new poster for Rabbit Hole. This one is completely different and I kinda think it's a bit great. I see cues taken from other posters, but in 2010 it's hard not to see similarities, ya know? So many movies with so many posters, they're bound to all look like something else no matter what the concept. Still, it's original enough to stand out and it actually kind of has a creepy horror movie vibe about it. Hmmm. Take a look and speak up in the comments with what you think?

The more I look at it the more I like it. I kinda wish there was a nudgewink "from the director of Shortbus" line on there somewhere, but that was never going to eventuate. I like how it includes images of the despair and the (attempted) repair between the central Kidman/Eckhart relationship. Kinda shows you that it's more than just 2 hours of people grieving. But, then again, some people will say it's just that no matter what.

I just cannot wait much longer for this movie! I somehow stumbled across an episode of Oprah where she was interviewing Nicole Kidman and they showed clips from Rabbit Hole... they.looked.spec.tacular. Gah!

Scream to Scream, Scene by Scene: SCENE 2 of Scream 2 (0:10:32-0:13:50)

In this project I attempt to review the entire Scream trilogy scene by scene in chronological order. Heavy spoilers and gore throughout!

SCENE 2 of Scream 2
Length: 3mins 18secs
Primary Characters: Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Hallie (Elise Neil) and Cotton Weary (Liev Shreiber)
Pop Culture References:
  • None

"Welcome to your lucky day in hell" sing the Eels over the soundtrack of our re-introduction to Sidney Prescott. The sun is shining and she has no reason to expect what's about to go down over the next few days.

I like how they don't make her instantly afraid when a) her telephone rings and b) it's "the voice" on the other end. Unlike other scary movies where the first time we see the returning "final girl" she's a tormented and distraught mess. She just yawns off the "what's your favourite scary movie" gag as if it's a part of life now, and one she doesn't expect to eventuate into malice.

"Who is this?"
"You tell me."

"Cory Gillis, 555-0176."
"Hot flash, Cory. Prank calls are a criminal offence prosecuted under penal code 653M.
*Cory hangs up*
"Hmm. Hope you enjoy the movie.

Hey look! It's Cotton Weary! I continue to love that Liev Shreiber - now considered a very Respectable Actor - was in these movies. And, hey, there's a cameo by the writer of Scream and Scream 2, Kevin Williamson.

I like how they telegraph that Cotton's side of the story isn't done yet and that he is, right off the bat, a big suspect. I also like that Cotton's obsession with television news programs lead into his character's profession of Scream 3 (one of the better moments of continuity between the films, I say).

Oh hai, Hallie! I really like Hallie. I mean, sure, she's no Tatum Riley, but who is??!?, but any girl that decorates her room like this (there are flamingos on the wall off camera!) must be fun. I've always been a bit sad that Hallie was replaced as the killer in the final act and was, instead, sidled with a loopy, plot hole-riddled death sequence. Oh well. I'll always have her ghetto-on-helium "whaaaaat?" to Sidney.

Why yes, that is Sandy Heddings-Katulka as "Girl in Dorm Hallway", but I'm sure you knew that already, right?

"Where's Randy?"
"He's got film theory this morning."

RANDY'S BACK! Oh man, I was so excited when they said that dialogue. And, of course, he's taking film theory.

The press really are vultures, aren't they?

Meanwhile, I love that two of the actors playing reporters here never went on to many another movie, while the other, Joe Washington, seems to only ever play reporters in movies. Is he a reporter in real life who makes extra income by portraying reporters in movies?

Intro, Scene 1 Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 7, Scene 8, Scene 9, Scene 10, Scene 11, Scene 12, Scene 13, Scene 14, Scene 15, Scene 16, Scene 17, Scene 18, Scene 19, Scene 20, Scene 21, Scene 22, Scene 23, Scene 24, Scene 25, Scene 26, Scene 27, Scene 28, Scene 29, Scene 30, Scene 31 Scene 32, Scene 33, End Credits

Scream 2
Scene 1

Monday, November 29, 2010

Needs More Adjusting aka The Amputee Bureau

Oh har dee hah HAH. Good grief, somebody stop me before I go pun overboard!

Here is the poster for the new Matt Damon/Emily Blunt thriller The Adjustment Bureau.

Firstly, we must address the fact that they chose to use a shot of Damon and Blunt in which they both look like amputees. What's up with that? I know they're running, but it still looks silly/funny/annoying. I actually think the backdrop of the poster is fantastic and has a definite noirish/expressionist vibe about it (I'm thinking Dark City here, just obviously not as good), and the way you gotta look to get all the details (did you notice the man in the very Orson Welles/The Third Man shot just above the cast names?) but that foreground is disastrous. Truly. Despite the whole amputee stuff, there's also the ridiculous Photoshopping. Those two actors do not look natural at all lumped right there on the top of some random building. Is Blunt's dress even red at all?

Nice concept, but bad execution.

Review: Devil

Dir. John Erick Dowdle
Year: 2010
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 80mins

M. Night Shyamalan is a man whose next film used to elicit gasps of excitement, and now it’s laughs of mockery. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse than Mark Wahlberg having a therapy session with a tree in The Happening, he turns around and makes The Last Airbender and he’s now handing over the reins of his stories to other filmmakers – in this case writer Brian Nelson and director John Erick Dowdle. Devil is the first in a series of “Night Chronicles” and when they’re all complete they will make a nice DVD box set, but you should perhaps reconsider planting your hard-earned cash over to the box office.

Read the rest at Trespass

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The King's Joy

Back in early November we got a look at the poster for Harvey Weinstein's big Oscar contender The King's Speech. It was not good. We later heard from the film's director Tom Hooper that the poster was being scrapped and that a new one was coming along very soon. It made sense that they would do that since, well, did you see that first poster? It was one of the worst posters you'll ever see for a major release.

We now have said new poster and while it is certainly an improvement over the first one's poorly Photoshopped goofiness and strange constipated expressions, there is more to object to. Let's take a look at the British quad (a design from which I'm sure the new American poster will be incorporated out of).

Yes, I think we can all agree this is better. However, I call umbrage on that quote from Empire.


While I might normally expect a quote such as this to come from a hack quote whore critic whose sole job in life is to appear on posters for everything from The King's Speech to Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous sounding like a rabid wowser frothing at the mouth, but Empire are usually a bit better than that.

Still, this quote is all kinds of wrong no matter who said it. "Like all great film"? you say. Like "ALL" of them? It's nice to know that, according to Empire, you can only be considered a great film if it "fills you with joy". Sorry Lars von Trier, Michelangelo Antonioni, Darren Aronofsky, Ingmar Bergman, Andrey Tarkovskiy, Stanley Kubrick, YasujirĂ´ Ozu, Claire Denis, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Gus Van Sant and any other director over the last 100+ years of filmmaking. Unless all those miserable and challenging films you made over the years didn't fill us with joy then they can no longer be hailed as great. Don't even get me started on your films being called masterpieces. Only the most joyful of joyous films get that title.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Review: Copacabana

Dir. Marc Fitoussi
Year: 2010
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 107mins

French cinema icon Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher) is not known for her light and frothy screen presence. With that in mind it’s an interesting prospect to take a visit to Copacabana in which Huppert not only dances in outlandish Brazilian and Indian costumes, laughs with wild abandon and jokes while on carnival rides at the beach.

Read the rest at Trespass

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm Wrapped in Plastic

I won't be around today since it's Laurathon! The amazing Melbourne cinema hub ACMI have a nine hour Twin Peaks marathon featuring various episodes, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and panel discussions. It's going to be glorious! A full report will (hopefully) be in order.

I hope Bob doesn't get ya while I'm away!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Scream to Scream, Scene by Scene: SCENE 1 of Scream 2 (0:00:00-0:10:31)

In this project I attempt to review the entire Scream trilogy scene by scene in chronological order. Heavy spoilers and gore throughout!

SCENE 1 of Scream 2
Length: 10mins 31secs
Primary Characters: Maureen Evans (Jada Pinkett), Phil Stevens (Omar Epps) & Ghostface
Pop Culture References:
  • Sandra Bullock (Maureen would rather see a Sandra Bullock movie)
  • Sister Soulja (Phil calls Maureen this)
  • Black Beat and Entertainment Weekly magazines (mentioned in where Maureen gets her movie info from)
  • The House on Haunted Hill (the Ghostface flying over the audience is the same trick used for screenings of this 1959 film)
  • "Stab-o-Vision" (an obvious gag to old film techniques for disaster movies)
  • Psycho (Stab featured an identical shower shot)

And so it begins with the cooing R&B grooves of D'Angelo's cover of Prince's "She's Always in My Hair". Perhaps a strange song to open up a horror movie with, but then Scream 2 isn't a regular horror movie.

I love how we're only seconds into the movie and it already feels grander than not only the original Scream, but also most horror films. Through the entire franchise, actually, the filmmakers have gone to a lot of trouble to distinguish it from most of the others. Everything looks deliberate and meticulous. Case in point an entire scene of people wearing Ghostface masks, an entire scene dedicated to referencing the earlier film (which can be tricky for horror movies since history shows the sequels do better than the original once more people have seen them on home video) and an entire scene wherein the whole point is to make the audience very much aware that they're watching a horror movie sequel. None of these sorta vague references to the earlier film that could fly over the head of many, but a clear, concerted effort to make it as unique and to create its own universe. Love it.

I like that brief pan through the crowd before the camera locks on Jada Pinkett and Omar Epps as "Maureen Evans" and "Phil Stevens", as if wondering "who is the roulette wheel going to land on". Cue jokes about Sandra Bullock! "Who'd pay $7.50 to see some Sandra Bullock shit? 'less she's naked..." Apparently people are willing to pay double $7.50 these days. Christ, ticket prices sure have gone up, haven't they?

"I'mma tell you what it is, okay; It's a dumbass white movie about some dumbass white girls gettin' their white asses cut the fuck up."

I used to really like Jada Pinkett. She doesn't do anything anymore (although when it's something like Collateral I will jump on board her train again), but like a lot of the trilogy's cast-members I have a soft spot for them due to their association. I think Jada has some great line readings in this opening scene, actually. Like the one above, and...

"Listen, I read by Entertainment Weekly, I.Know.My.Shit.

"What's this?"
"Stab souvenirs, the studio send them over."

*gasp* "And it's white!"


That usher is all "whatever, I don't care!" you know it.

This entire scene is a big geek out for a true Scream die hard such as myself. Filled with all these big references to Scream as well as all the satire that we've come to know and love, usually within the same shot. I like this as a gag at how many saw Scream as so original, and yet here we are watching a sequel and yet one that features a scene in which the original Scream has been turned into a watered down, unoriginal movie by Hollywood. Er, does that make sense? In the way that Stab is influenced by the real life murders and, from what we see, is nowhere near representative of them, so too were so many films influenced by Scream and yet were nowhere near the quality of it.

Wow, I ramble. Sorry.

I'm including this shot because the look on the usher's face is so... I dunno, terrifying? Like a clown out of makeup or something, he just has a sinister vibe about him. You can almost see him wanting to break out into a loud "mwahaha" type laugh like an old Dracula movie.

I kinda love that Heather Graham is in Scream 2 as the Casey Becker of Stab. She had just started the peak of her career playing "Roller Girl" in Boogie Nights in a string of movies that were either big hits (Austin Powers 2), very good (the aforementioned two, Bowfinger) or, if not, at least were marketed in the hope they would become big hits (Say It Isn't So) until From Hell in 2001 at which time it all went disastrously wrong for her.

"Bitch, hang the phone up and star 69 his ass!"

I'm not sure what that would do, exactly, but I love how they put characters that know what they would do in a situation and yet place them in a situation in which they can't do what they think they should do. Make sense?

Here are the moments that I think were used to mock those silly moments in the original where the killer just appeared in random spots. This Stab sequence wasn't directed by Wes Craven, but instead by Robert Rodriquez. Keeping it in the Miramax wheelhouse.

"Gimme some money, I need to get popcorn."
"You got money."
"I got my money, I asked for your money."
"Cheap ass..."

Hah. More great screen bitchery from Maureen Evans.

"I don't even know you and I dislike you already."

True fact, I actually still to this very say say this "I don't even know you..." line. Such a good little line. Meanwhile, I love how the killer within Stab asks Casey "would you like [a boyfriend]" and she makes a big thing about not having one (just as Casey did in the original) and yet unlike the original the boyfriend doesn't appear tied up out the back. They just completely excised the Steven Orth character, which is hilarious since Stab is a mockery of the way Hollywood alters real life events.

Having said that, they get a lot of the dialogue here and in the Tori Spelling sequence awfully close, but we'll put that down to artistic license.

"Hi, can I have a medium popcorn, no butter, and a small Diet Pepsi."

that is a medium popcorn and small drink?

One of the great things they (Craven, Kevin Williamson and Pinkett) do with the character of Maureen is actually make her quite easily scared. She has the tough exterior, and tries to make it look as if she doesn't like "a movie called Stab" because of some moral issue as if they're beneath her, but really she's terrified of them. The way she flinches as she's watching Stab and something scary is happening, the way she jolts at the sight of some of the people in masks inside the cinema and the way she screams as her boyfriend plays a trick on her.

Okay, this last one is pretty mean.

One thing that always makes my eyes pop is Jada Pinkett's neck! It's so long! All the better for whipping her hair back and forth with her daughter, I suppose.

Amazing! Perhaps my favourite thing about Stab is that they kept in the jiffy pop. They deleted an entire real life character, but kept in the popcorn. I especially love that she was about to take a shower and yet when she's on the phone to the killer we see the popcorn on the stove as if she had put it on before she went to take the shower. Love it. So ridiculous!

Despite the fact that Phil Stevens is very unhygienic when he places his face against the wall of a toilet stall (!!!) I actually think this death scene is great. So quick and economical. The way the voice in the next stall is all "oh mommy mommy" and so forth, and how this death was probably even riskier than Maureen's since there's no reason to expect a publicity stunt death in the men's room, ya know?

And because I'm lazy I need to thank Jason at My New Plaid Pants for the caps.

Hah, Oh man I really do love Jada Pinkett in this scene. She's makes me chuckle. Maureen is so into the movie and she's got no idea what's about to happen. Poor girl. All she wanted was to see a Sandra Bullock movie.

Just as "Machete don't text", so to does Ghostface not eat popcorn. At least not while he's on the job with business to take care of.

And herein lies why this scene works as well as it does. With Phil now dispatched, the killer (one doesn't really need to work long to figure out it's Mickey - I don't think Debbie Salt could pass herself off as a black man who's over six feet and probably 200lbs) wearing a Ghostface mask he is free to do as he pleases under a) anonymity and b) publicity.

Firstly, I feel like that shot of Heather Graham towards the end is a big reference to something. Anybody?? Also, I like that they threw in a good in Stab! You can see the knife slide across Graham's upper chest despite the retractable blade already, apparently, going in. I like to think this is a reference to the bit in Scream where you can see the board under Drew Barrymore's body that she's been dragged along on.

Secondly, for such a loud woman, Maureen sure was quiet when she discovered a mysterious red liquid on her boyfriend's jacket. Hmmm. Nevertheless, I love this scene. So well handled and it's just like playing all the cards so perfectly. Unlike the original Scream where there was nobody to help her and, even when her parents came home Casey couldn't make a sound, here there are people everywhere and she is screaming loud as can be and yet nobody can help. Ying/Yang type situation, I guess.

Hey look, it's Carrot Top! This movie is kind of a cool little throwaway shot, but I like it.

American audiences are crazy, y'all! The only movie I've ever been to where the crowds are at all like this is The Room and for good reason (it's audience participation!) That's why this scene could never appear in an Australian horror movie because we're, I guess, just too placid. We don't cheer or clap, boo or hiss. Still, it's kinda funny to watch this scene because it's just so crazy. If you were in Maureen's shoes it would be like that scene in Carrie where everyone laughs at her at the prom and they all start spinning around in her mind. So many ghostfaces! All of them laughing and cheering!

Mickey is clearly have a ball. This move just feels excessive, even for him!

Jada's big scream. Love it! And against the backdrop of giant Ghostface on the cinema screen? Kind of a brilliant composition, don't you think? Might as well be saying "I'm baaaack!"

I like how the camera just lingers for several seconds longer than it should. Casey's intestines got a big ol' zoom in, but here the camera just sits patiently as silence fills the theatre. And thus ends the opening scene of Scream. Setting the tone for the movie to come by being - as Randy would say - bigger and much more elaborate. Taking everything that came before, twisting it, and yet keeping the very essence of what Scream is all about.

Cue brand new title card that marked the first big difference between the visual style of Scream and Scream 2.

Intro, Scene 1 Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, Scene 5, Scene 6, Scene 7, Scene 8, Scene 9, Scene 10, Scene 11, Scene 12, Scene 13, Scene 14, Scene 15, Scene 16, Scene 17, Scene 18, Scene 19, Scene 20, Scene 21, Scene 22, Scene 23, Scene 24, Scene 25, Scene 26, Scene 27, Scene 28, Scene 29, Scene 30, Scene 31 Scene 32, Scene 33, End Credits