Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Campesque

This is the poster for Burlesque.


That was the poster for Burlesque.

So, top points for being completely and utterly unafraid of all the nasty, grotesque, homophobic trolls that patrol the internet as if only heterosexual men are allowed to be on here. They're certainly not backing down from the "camp" vibe of all the other marketing material released so far and I love it for doing so. I also love whoever designed this because they actually put Cher on there when it would've been so easy to say "nobody knows who Cher is!"

Still, the poster is RIDICULOUS, no?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Eye of the Trailer

Fred Schepisi has returned to Australia to direct his first film here since Evil Angels (otherwise known as A Cry in the Dark or the Meryl-Streep-puts-on-a-bad-Aussie-accent movie) in the late 1980s with The Eye of the Storm. It is an adaptation of Australia's only Nobel Prize-winning novel and stars Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis and Charlotte Rampling. The plot goes like this: two well off siblings return to the bedside of their ailing, domineering mother, thus providing ample opportunities for hilarious (read: "hilarious") fish-out-of-water situations.

As familiar as that plot may sound, the real juice in the tanker of this movie is watching two of Australia's finest actors, Rush and Davis - the latter of which has become criminally underseen in recent years - go at it hammer and tongs on the big screen with some (hopefully) juicy material. Adding Charlotte Rampling and Colin Friels (not shown in the trailer, unfortunately) to the proceedings doesn't hurt, now does it?

I had not been made aware that a trailer had been released recently, but it has and so here it is with thanks to TwitchFilm. It certainly looks like an acting showcase (although I imagine those who are not a fan of Geoffrey Rush's shtick will not be anticipating more of the same) in what will hopefully be an entertaining film. The trailer is definitely WIDESCREEN so if it is too small below click the Twitch link above or, for an even larger viewing experience, it is at Inside Film as well.

Review: Going the Distance

Going the Distance
Dir. Nanette Burstein
Year: 2010
Running Time: 102mins
Aus Rating: MA15+

Being a fan of romantic comedies can be difficult in these modern times. It has been a long time between drinks and great rom-coms are hard to come by. While Going the Distance isn’t going to rewrite the history books of the genre, it does prove to be a snappy and entertaining entry that should hit all the right bases for a date night trip to the cinema. Owing an obvious debt to the films of Judd Apatow, this film from documentary filmmaker Nanette Burstein is filled with crassness and curse words to appear edgy, but what allows it to succeed is the charm of stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, its bright and appealing visuals and its refreshing take on the romantic meanderings of thirty-somethings.

Read the rest at Trespass Magazine

One issue I don't raise in the review is Drew Barrymore's continuing obsession with making movies with her boyfriend of the day. She has made films with Tom Green, Jimmy Fallon and now two with Justin Long (after He's Just Not That Into You last year). I'm not sure why she does it, can anyone answer? Anyway, B

Friday, August 27, 2010

Black & White Friday: Gypsy 83


Perhaps a strange film to use for this series, but I'll explain way. Todd Stephen's 2001 film is an absolute stunner due to the power of its cast and the vision that is presented on screen. It's hardly the most radical of films and follows a very routine small-town-freaks-head-to-the-big-city-and-meet-crazy-characters-along-the-way plot (it's a sub-genre, okay!), but there's something so touching about the leads Sara Rue and Kett Turton together and the way the film feels truly independent and like it's set out to be its own magical beast. It never wants to settle for being the same old, despite it's familiar material. I appreciate that above mere ho-hum dialogue.


I decided to use it for the series, however, because spread through the movie are these black and white intervals filmed on an old handheld camera owned by the character of "Clive". It was this shot above that really made me wonder what the entire film might have looked like if filmed this way like an ultra-cheap underground movie made in the late '70s/early '80s in New York City by artists who live in apartments with no running water and who work in dead-end jobs Monday to Friday just to finance their art projects.


This seems like something underground filmmakers would do - set social "freaks" and "perverts" loose in a cemetery. Don't you think?


This looks more like a shot from a Divinyls video from 1990.


One thing that intrigued me about this movie what what year it was set. I know it was set in 2001 (the year it was released), but there are many moments like this that made me think it was set in the 1990s (this set looks just like a Curve video or somethin') and the 1980s (since the two lead characters look like they never left). But going with our theme of underground cinema, this does sorta look like the sorta "it's-a-set-but-not-a-set" those filmmakers may have come up with.


Karen Black terrifies me. Not just in this movie, but in general.



We all know the sort of underground indie films of the period were not shy about sex, particularly that that was deemed immoral or lewd, so I think some gay sex is more than expected. Of course, in Gypsy 83 the gay seduction is played so fantasy-like that it's one of the few moments that actually feels false, but it's still played so genuinely that I couldn't help but grin.


This was perhaps my favourite scene of the movie, as Clive puts on a show to The Cure's ace "Doing the Unstuck". The black and white feels quite appropriate.


I feel like this shot almost looks like a John Waters movie. No, Sara Rue doesn't look like Divine, but he is obviously drawn to less traditional images of beauty, isn't he? And the horrified expressions on their face just top that off.


This is a wonderful shot as they pass through the tunnel from New Jersey into Manhattan. The roughness of the photography and the high contrast of the whites and blacks do evoke those films from the underground movement that were shot on the fly and did whatever they needed to get a shot even if it wasn't perfect. It's a shot that feels so authentic.


Fittingly, I am finishing on a shot of New York City, this film's spiritual home. This whole idea of underground NYC cinema has been taken from the little of it that I gleaned from Celine Danhier's documentary Black City. Films that used New York in its most street-level natural form. I wish director Todd Stephens had spent a little less time on the road and little more time in New York City since I can only imagine what sort of images, dripping with nostalgia, he could have put up. Budgetary constraints, I imagine, stopped that from happening, but it's still nice to imagine.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

AFI Video

I recently ran through the 19 films eligible for this year's AFI Awards. Since then two films have been deemed ineligible due to recent release date changes (they would be The Loved Ones and Blame), so we're left with 17 titles to fight it out for Best Film honours. Now comes the annual AFI video, which I always love. Movie montages such as this always float my boat! Take a peak and get a look at the Australian cinema landscape of 2010.

Review: Piranha 3D

Piranha 3D
Dir. Alexandre Aja
Year: 2010
Aus Rating: MA15+
Running Time: 88mins

Sometimes a title can tell you everything you need to know. Such is the case with Piranha 3D, a film in which prehistoric piranhas fly out of the screen at your face. If that sounds like a good time at the movies then run to the cinema immediately. Filled with recognisable faces, packed with excessive blood and gore and jokes as corny as they are hilarious, Piranha 3D is, if nothing else, the most honest and unpretentious piece of filmmaking of 2010.

Read the rest at Trespass Mag

I doubt there is a movie released in 2010 that earns it's B more than Piranha 3D. It's a B movie through and through both in intent and execution.


And for what it's worth, the recent "Funny or Die" sketch that aimed to place this movie amongst the year's Oscar contenders is worthwhile for one category: Best Make-Up. It will never happen, but I am quite positive that the make-up work here will be far superior to any of the old age make-up or fat man make-up that the Oscar's branch will ultimately bestow a nomination upon. The bit where a girl's hair gets caught in a boat propellor that proceeds to then rip her entire face off is a better example of cinema make-up than The Wolfman, Alice in Wonderland or whatever other terrible movie will fill the space.

Also, this new "Funny or Die" video is hilarious! "Ving Rhames can send video through time", indeed.

Scream to Scream, Scene by Scene: SCENE 19 of Scream (0:51:45-0:53:00)

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


SCENE 19
Length: 1min 15secs
Primary Characters: Sidney Prescott and Tatum Riley
Pop Culture References:
  • Wes Craven and John Carpenter (Tatum references both)
  • Richard Gere (a joke at his expense)


I wish I had a two story house like this so I could place stereo speakers on the ceiling. Although, if that were me and it was 1996 like the film I would probably be blasting out Dance to the Max, Vol. 14, Luscious Jackson's Fever In Fever Out or Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins and not "School's Out" by Alice Cooper. Speaking of "School's Out", the Alice Cooper version is indeed very good, but I also like the version by The Last Hard Men that features on the Scream soundtrack (which I own, of course). I wonder what the story behind that was.


I want that front garden. Seriously.

Another swooping crane shot to begin a scene, but I like how when get to hear Sidney and Tatum talking we're literally entering half way through their conversation. It always annoys me when characters sit down to chat and, say, order food and yet their conversations lasts 30 seconds. This at least feels a bit more natural.


If Nathaniel R @ The Film Experience did a "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" entry about Scream I actually think this shot would be right up there amongst the top three contenders as my favourite shot from the entire film. I love the framing and the colour and the unsettling angle, but also this idea that Sidney is now constantly being stalked and hounded. And I don't just mean by the killer, but by everyone. She's being followed by the press, surrounded by security and hounded by her own feelings that the idea she had in her head - her mother was innocent - is crumbling. In a way, it's a metaphor for the jail she feels she is locked into.

See how far I can delve into the simplest of things?


"It goes further back, Sid. There's been talk of other men."
"And you believe it?"
"Well, I mean you can only hear that Richard Gere gerbil story so many times that you have to start believing it."

I'm sure that whatever search engines were popular back in 1996 - Yahoo? ASK JEEVES? - got a rush of inquiries of "richard gere gerbil" from cinemagoers. In 2010, however, in the day and age of The Human Centipede a famous Hollywood actor sending gerbils up his arse is almost quaint.




Okay, so this is the definition of reading too much into too little. It's quite literally a "blink and you'll miss it" moment and it was hard to capture, but if you watch carefully you'll see a gesture made by Rose McGowan. After she apologises to Sidney for, essentially, calling her mother a slut Sidney walks down the other end of the veranda and starts mulling over the possibility of having wrongfully helped convict Cotton Weary. Before Sidney starts talking, however, Rose/Tatum does a head turn away from her and does a little hand flail and shoulder shrug. I take this one of two ways, either it's Tatum showing that she, too, is fed up with everything being about Sidney and Sidney always moping about etc etc, or it's Rose having forgotten her line or something that they didn't pick up in the editing suite.

I DON'T KNOW!!


"Don't go there Sid, you're starting to sound like some Wes Carpenter flick or something."

I used to think this line was greatest thing ever. It's obviously not, but it's still cool in a lame kinda way. I'm trying to remember if they made "Wes Carpenter" the director of Stab (the movie-within-a-movie-based-on-the-events-in-this-movie featured in Scream 2), but I can't recall.


"Let's boogie!"

I love Tatum.


This is the second scene in a row that ends with a silly shot. This time it's silly because... well, it's just silly. Ghostface lurking in the bushes? Really? I think the shot I discussed earlier in this entry gave the same sense of unease with the audience, but did so without hitting them over the head with a "SIDNEY IS BEING STALKED, OMG" mallet.

I do, however, think that Wes Craven himself didn't like this shot because in the Stab opening scene from Scream 2 where lightning flashes outside the house of "Casey" (played by Heather Graham in Stab, you following me?) and the killer is revealed as hiding on her glass ceiling. I like to take that as a "this horror movie cliche of the killer randomly appearing in strange places is quite silly." Do you agree?

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

Cleansing the Poster Palate

After the disaster that was the poster for Unstoppable I thought it best to cleanse and look at a few posters I've seen recently that I actually like.


I am really drawn to this poster, I must admit. It doesn't tell us anything about the movie, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for a small film such as arthouse audiences, and it appears to be rather simple, but I like that they've done something different and haven't simply fallen back on good ol' indie traps like big empty white space. My eyes have been glued to it for far longer than, say, this horrible poster, and that's a good thing. I'm not sure if it's a good poster, but I think I like it nonetheless.


Ya know, if I hadn't already seen the trailer for this Aussie horror flick then simply looking at the poster would have me instantly enthused. Unfortunately I have seen the trailer and so no amount of awesome Jeremy Saunders designs can make me excited for this movie. It looks terrible. The movie, not the poster. The poster is great. Yes, it's using the Grindhouse aesthetic (which is odd since the movie itself looks to be very clean, crisp and digital, not at all like a Grindhouse movie), but when a design is this fun to look at and imagine hanging up in a cinema I don't think it's worth complaining.


Not exactly a good poster, but I thought it was worth mentioning because it's not every day you see a movie poster with an erection on it. Great use of colour though.

When Bad Posters Strike: Unstoppable

Back in the very early days of this blog when I started writing about the bad movie posters that I started noticing with alarming regularity I wrote about a movie called Deja Vu. It featured Denzel Washington standing with his face a 45 degree angle and fire shooting out of his shoulder and neck. It's comforting to know that Denzel (or, more specifically, the movies he makes) haven't changed all that much since 2006 - gold star for consistency, then - that they get to just re-use the basic premise of his old posters over and over again.

However, if I (and you) thought the Deja Vu poster was bad, which it was, then nothing could quite prepare me for the poster for Unstoppable, a thriller with a terrible generic title that I had never heard of before. Behold.


Oh look, there's Denzel Washington with his head at a regal 45 degree angle with fire shooting out of him. However, I am sure you have eyes and can tell that that isn't the worst part of this poster. No, the worst aspect of it is, quite obviously, Chris Pine. I actually didn't even recognise him at the bottom (oh, yeah, it's a stripe pattern - BOOOooo) because he has been Photoshopped into oblivion.

He looks kinda like Chris Pine if you squint and imagine him as the lady from Goldfinger who's painted in gold. He looks like a character from Grand Theft Auto more so than anything else. Everything about him looks computer generated including his eyes, his whiskers and his skin. Even the pores look face, like they might do in a cartoon to give the character "realism". Maybe he's C3P0's humanoid 2.0 cousin.

It must be said that I didn't know anything about this movie before seeing this poster, and apart from knowing it exists and that it stars Denzel Washington and Chris Pine I still don't know a thing. Is it a gripping thriller about a pair of welders? Is that was all those sparks signify? It is apparently "inspired by true events", but that little bit of prized information doesn't mean anything when the poster says absolutely nothing about what the movie is about. What a bunch of rubbish this poster is.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bring It On? Take a Big Whiff!

I have gone in to bat for Peyton Reed's Bring It On before. I even called it the greatest sports film of all time, a point I stand by. Needless to say I have a fondness for it, so when it came to choosing my favourite individual shot from the movie for The Film Experience's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series I had trouble.

It took a lot of willpower to not just choose a moment from my favourite scene, Missy's audition in the gymnasium, due to my love of Eliza Dushku and the range of facial expressions and emotions she has during this scene. Smug superiority, fake cheeriness and intense satisfaction. Same for the scene in which she slowly registers the fact that the cheerleading team she has just joined has ripped off the cheers from another school. Or how about the scene where Missy's cheer persona is revealed and she, dare we suggest, likes it! My favourite shots of these moments are below, but they're not my number one.






Of course there's also basically any shot of Jesse Bradford because, well, he's Jesse Bradford. It's quite interesting to note that all three leads from Bring It On seemed like they could have success and stardom handed to them on a silver platter and yet it never quite worked out.




I also love the way the Kirsten Dunst makes her character of Torrence so easy to read. The way she looks like a deer in the headlights during her TV interview or by the way he face drops when she can't keep up the perky "spirit fingers" face anymore.



I nearly went with this shot below because I feel it says so much about the film's willingness to be different about homosexuality in the way it's represented so casually. After Les speaks to a fellow male cheerleader he has this look of relief that is so adorable and says so much about the character.


In the end I had to go with a shot of Missy, but one that I think perfectly encapsulates Bring It On. The shot below is not only from a really well-edited montage (gawd, how much do I love a montage?) but I think it shows off the film's exuberance with colour and composition, as well as expressing Peyton Reed's obvious love of cinema. A Bob Fosse movie is not something you ever expect from a teen movie, but there it is, Sweet Charity! I love how purely obsessed with cinema Bring It On is, everything about the movie screams devotion and never more so than when it references one of the medium's greatest artists.

Aussies are Toronto Bound

It's always interesting to see how Australian films fare on the international festival circuit. Of the four biggies - Toronto, Berlin, Cannes and Venice - it is only the first two that seem to ever have a decent representation. Cannes occasionally welcomes a local film in one of their prestige sidebars (I went back ten years and Jane Campion's Bright Star was the only Palme d'Or nominee) while, if I remember correctly, the Venice Film Festival is stingy towards out product year in year out.

The Toronto International Film Festival just released its full roster and while the Aussie contingent can't reach last year's tally, six titles are going to be showing, which is good news for all. Last year TIFF audiences were let in on The Loved Ones and rewarded it with the Midnight Madness top honours. It has yet to be released here in Australia (it recently received a new Halloween-inspired release date that, sadly, it is no longer eligible for this year's AFI awards), one film that did get a release was Mao's Last Dancer, which became one of the highest grossing Australian films of all time. Let's see what TIFF 2010 has in store.

Blame is another film that recently changed release dates and, thus, is no longer competing in the AFI Awards. Nevertheless, this Perth-filmed thriller tells of a group of teens/twenty-somethings who decide to commit the perfect murder, but are brought undone by messy mistakes. It stars Kestie Morassi, Sophie Lowe, Simon Stone, Damian de Montemas and Mark Leonard Winter and is directed by Michael Henry. I didn't hear much out of it's MIFF premiere, unfortunately.


Controversial teen high school drama Wasted on the Young will be screening at TIFF. It sorta sounds like 2:37 mated with Gasper Noe and several people who saw it at the Sydney Film Festival were not to pleased while others were suitably impressed. It's local release is set for early 2011 and I wonder how an international audience will respond to it. Completely different is Louise Alston's Jucy, the director's follow up to the charming romantic comedy All My Friends are Leaving Brisbane. I really enjoyed that one, but the trailer for Jucy looks just abominable (watch the trailer below). Naturally, I am now intrigued to see what it was that got it accepted into TIFF.



Two documentaries will screen, one of which is Mark Hartley's Machete Maidens Unleashed, which recently had its world premiere at MIFF and which I reviewed. It's probably got a subject matter that would be of interest to a more global lot of viewers, but the movie isn't as good as Hartley's first doco Not Quite Hollywood. The second documentary screening is Mother of Rock: Lillian Roxon, which I had never even heard about. Filmink describes it as "a fascinating insight into the life of the acclaimed rock journalist and an overview of the 1960s record industry." Okay then.

The biggest title, however, that most of us Aussie cinephiles are looking for at Toronto will be Griff the Invisible. As far as I can recall, Griff will be the first locally made superhero movie since The Return of Captain Invincible in 1983 (starring Alan Arkin, no less). This new film from first time director Leon Ford stars Ryan Kwanten (sure to get some True Blood fans in the audience for this one) and Maeve Dermody. We recently marvelled at some images from the film and I'm loving the festival poster that was designed by, of course, Jeremy Saunders.

We'll see how they all go once they've screened, but here's hoping they're all good and the Canadians like them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Man Behind the Poster is Now The Man In Front of the Camera

This is the trailer for a new documentary that is sure to gain plenty of interest on the film festival circuit from film poster nuts and cinephiles alike such as myself. I imagine it will also be of interest to hip people who like to be able to say they know who Drew Struzan is. It's called Drew: The Man Behind the Poster and while it has all sorts of interesting names attached to it it looks like a problematic film. For starters, what do Harrison Ford, Steve Guttenberg and Michael J Fox know about the subject? The trailer makes me suspect "not much".

The second issue is that it is being directed by a first time director by the name of Erik Sharkey. This is his first feature and... there's always something fishy about a first time documentary filmmaker getting all these big names. I mean, he's got Steven Spielberg and George Lucas in there! Makes me worry that he's only interested in the superficial because it sells better. I guess we'll see, but this film reeks of those documentaries that show up ever year because the director had a neat idea, but not much thought put into it other than "people will see it because it's about someone famous".

My third issue is worrying about how Sharkey can make an entire film out of this subject. Let's not mince words here, Struzan's biggest works are almost all the same! How many anecdotes and stories can there be about how he came up with the design for Indiana Jones or Harry Potter or Star Wars or... well, you get the picture. In fact, the only Struzan design that I included on my 100 greatest posters countdown (note: that list is outdated) was The Thing. I'm just not a big fan of cluttered, delicately lit look that he seems to use so often.


Now, if someone wants to make an all-encompassing documentary about Saul Bass then I'll be there with bells on. As for Drew: The Man Behind the Poster? I'm wary, but will be on the lookout for reactions to it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Scream to Scream, Scene by Scene: SCENE 18 of Scream (0:49:44-0:51:44)

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


SCENE 18
Length: 2mins
Primary Characters: Principal Himbry and Ghostface
Pop Culture References:
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (the janitor, "Fred", wears Freddy Krueger's sweater)
  • Happy Days (Principal Himbry checks his hair just like The Fonz)


This is an interesting scene since it was actually never in Kevin Williamson's original screenplay, but the producers (that'd be the Weinstein brothers) thought - rightfully so - that the movie needed another murder before the big climax at Stu's house. The scene works in the way it eliminates a red herring, shows off the killers' new-found spontaneity (they had a very definite plan, but seem to divert from it - or Stu does) and desire to murder even those who have no connection to the central story, gives the superfluous characters a reason to leave towards the end of the movie and is a neat way keeping the rhythm going in these pre-finale scenes that could have become skippable in a "get us to the good stuff!" kind of way.


"Oh shit, they're gonna kill Fonzie?!?"

Yes. Yes they are!


This shot may not seem relevant, but it took my a lot of viewings to figure out what they did there.


This is a funny little moment in which Principal Himbry gets frightened by the sight of the Ghostface mask in his own hand. I like how he realises how silly he is, which ties into the idea of all these characters having watched horror movies before all this began. He knows he's just being paranoid. I like to imagine that the character knows that if this were all a movie then it would've been a fake scare and he's be embarrassed to have jumped at it.



I'm not sure if this moment was improvised or what, but it's amusing nonetheless. It really is like The Fonz ended up being the Principal at Californian high school!


He's getting his angry face on. I'm not quite sure how Billy/Stu (whichever one it is) managed to hide during this bit since he would have had to be wearing the chunky black boots and they'd make noise when having to run away fast, which is what he would've had to do since Himbry opens the door almost immediately. Bah! I think about this sorta stuff way too much.


That'd be Wes Craven as "Fred the Janitor" wearing the same costume as Freddy Krueger does in Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street. This was the first of three cameos that Craven had throughout the trilogy. The others we'll get to, but Fred will always be the best because it's just such a wonderful wink to audiences. Even if it wasn't Craven himself, it would still be fun seeing this old, wrinkly Freddy Krueger now being overtaken by the younger, hipper serial killers. Somebody should have told everyone involved with the terrible, terrible remake from earlier this year.


And now the blind is down.


It's Fonzie's jacket! Right there! To the left (to the left)! This is a scene that keeps on giving.


I couldn't capture it very well, but at this moment Himbry AGAIN frightens himself in the mirror. A nice little tension reliever before...









Oh dear.

As I was screencapping this moment I thought of the worst pun.

Are you ready?

"So this is what it sounds like, when The Fonz dies."

OH DEAR!!!

I'm not sure what Prince and the Revolution have to do with Scream, but whatevs.


The scene ends with this shot, which - I assume - is meant to be all "look at me!" but I find it kinda silly. I don't think it belongs in Scream and doesn't feel organic enough. In Scream 2 it would since that movie is far more polished, but here it comes off looking less like artistry and more like wank.

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