Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Honey 2 the Bee (see what I did there?)

"A mix between America's Best Dance Crew and Step Up, but way more awesome" - TEEN.COM

So pronounces the back cover of the Honey 2 blu-ray. I wasn't even aware Honey 2 existed and yet lo and behold there it was on the shelf at Video Vision just screaming, yelling, begging for me to rent it out. The cover looked so completely innocuous and nondescript - the title typeface appears to be Arial Bold - that I just knew I had to plant the cash down for it. Given that I had only just tweeted some several days earlier about this sort of film, it was like fate. Cliched fate, but fate nonetheless.


It did not disappoint. Somewhat completely different to the original Honey, Honey 2 (it gets away with the title because it's set at the same dance studio as the original, which has been hilariously renamed as "The Honey Daniels School for Dance") stars somebody called Katerina Graham as Maria, a young dancer taken out of "juvie" and put into the foster care of Honey Daniels' mother. I figured that this Maria chick must have been in the original, but it turns out she wasn't so I'm a bit confused as to what she's doing here and why Honey Daniels' mother gives too licks about her. The plot description on the back of the box exclaims that "the legacy of legendary dancer and choreographer Honey Daniels lives on", which is just hilarious since, if I recall correctly, all Honey Daniels did was fall ass backwards into some Z-grade hip-hop artist's videos before choreographing a routine for... Blaque Ivory? Man, Honey sucked!

Offside: Try saying "Honey Daniels" three times in the mirror and not even Jessica Alba will appear in your mirror for a cheap 5 minute cameo!

So ghetto! So gangsta! So fly!

Maybe it was because Honey 2 - from the same director as the original in case you were really desperate to know - ditched any ideas of being a legitimate film vehicle for Jessica Alba, but I deeply enjoyed it. Not because it's a great movie, but because it so directly plugs into everything that amuses me greatly about this genre of film. I feel like I have actually seen this movie before and that it was just relabelled as Honey 2, but I just don't care. I have a weakness, a sickness, for these dance movies. I know every single plot point there could possibly be and Honey 2 follows them to the letter. Sometimes that's all you want. Oh sure, it'd be great to have a dance movie that rivals, say, Saved the Last Dance for surprising dramatics (that line "we spend more time defending our relationship than actually having one" is such a good one!) or Step Up 2: The Streets for it's exploration of communal pride, but sometimes when you go to watch a horror movie you just want Friday the 13th Part XVI, you know? Or maybe that's just me? Is it just me? Oh...

Really, there is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, a rich boy (who has to miss their big audition to take an exam), a crew competition with a $100,000 cash prize that will pay for the medical expenses of their sick grandma, a reality dance show called Battle Zone, "street battles", dance sex, dancing to imagined music, perfectly choreographed spontaneous dance battle sequences, training montages, ridiculously evil villains and enough casual racism ("ah hellz naw, I gots this beeych" and enough hoochy mama's "mmhmmm"-ing their way through sassy smartmouthing) to fill several Brett Ratner movies. The biggest laugh was reserved for the scene where Maria goes about getting inspiration throughout the city (ballet! mime! salsa! incredibly flamboyant vogueing! it's like Bring It On amongst the streets of New York City). And then, of course, there's the opening credits title card that reads "introducing Alexis Jordan, with Audrina Patridge and Mario Lopez", because that's what we all need, am I right?

Word.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Review: The Artist

The Artist
Dir. Michel Hazanavicius
Country: France
Aus Rating: PG
Running Time: 100mins

It can be tricky watching a film like The Artist at this point in the game. Riding high on buzz from last year’s Cannes Film Festival, this charming French film from director Michel Hazanavicius (creator of the OSS 177 series) has a lot to live up to. Having steamrolled through award show season, and placing as the odds on favourite to win Best Picture at this month’s Academy Awards, Australian audiences finally get to see what all the fuss is about of this black and white, silent film. Don’t you worry, there’s reason to fuss.

Read the rest at Trespass Magazine

Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene
Dir. Sean Durkin
Country: USA
Aus Rating: MA15+
Running Time: 102mins

“Do you ever have that feeling where you don’t know if something’s a dream or a memory”, asks Elizabeth Olsen’s deeply traumatised Martha. It’s a line that perhaps best encapsulates Sean Durkin’s fascinating debut feature about a girl who escapes a commune and spirals under the eye of a disillusioned sister. Durkin has crafted his film with such a magical, mysterious sense of fluidity where images blur into one and memories of the past merge effortlessly into the present. It is a towering achievement of construction and simmering tension that sees this heretofore unknown Olsen sister navigating a trajectory that is both tragic and deeply wounding. If We Need to Talk About Kevin was an arthouse take on the "demon seed" subgenre of horror, then Martha Marcy May Marlene takes a similar metaphysical path to a slasher flick as this one girl is slowly, but surely, chased down. Not by a physical being per se, but by the psychological scars of a hurtful society. They're coming for her, and she has nowhere to go but to hide for as long as possible until the inevitable comes.

The situation that Martha finds herself in is not entirely explained, nor delved into with any great details, she merely finds herself in the company of a commune. This cult-like place is watched over with unsuspecting menace by Patrick, played by a growling John Hawkes. The brief glimpses of this near self-serving community are initially quite placid, but much like Martha’s re-integration into society, things go wrong very quickly. The film opens with Martha making a seemingly half-hearted attempt to escape through the woods of the New York Catskills early one morning. That she is found later on but her commune brother in a nearby town is not the scary part; the scary part is that they let her go.

Sumptuously filmed by cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes, Martha Marcy May Marlene – the “Marcy May” and “Marlene” refer to alternate personalities that Martha adopts at various intervals – appears to be filmed through a swatch of delicate lace, as delicate as the central character even. The deep greens and blacks don’t look quite as natural and rich, but are leant an almost dreamlike quality as if seen through sleepy half-closed eyes. Continuously filmed with obstructed lines of sight, it has a visual verve that belies its origins. I am always impressed by lower budgeted films like this that are able to craft such specific tones, and along with the impressive sound work – Martha sits alongside recent titles The Turin Horse, Antichrist and Meek's Cutoff as films that have made nature sound so eerily foreboding in the cinema – Durkin has allowed the locations of his film to help shape the story rather than merely accentuate it.


The ambiguity of the ending will surely leave audiences questioning what they have or have not seen, with its quiet demeanour will ultimately prove too impenetrable for some. I, on the other hand, found its relaxed-like-molasses atmosphere to be the perfect compliment to the powerful story. The encroaching horror weaselled its way into Martha's mind as well as mine, and several scenes towards the end – in particular a disastrously unnerving dinner party sequence that should have netted Olsen an Academy Award nomination – ratchet the tension up to levels that feel inconceivable at the outset. Like the guitar that Hawkes’ magical leader strums in front of an adoring crowd, Durkin works his film’s elements masterfully, timing everything perfectly so as to create maximum impact for even the slightest of incidents. Martha Marcy May Marlene isn’t a film I shall forget too quickly, it’s hushed terrors nagging like an itch under the skin. Its final haunting passages of deeply rooted paranoia are unforgettable. A

An Unlikely Sequel to Misplaced Americana

One of the 60 or so films that I saw at least year's Melbourne International Film Festival was Mike Ott's somewhat scrambled take on misplaced Americana, Littlerock. Ott's film navigated the interconnecting lives of two Japanese tourists and the locals of Littlerock, California. As I wrote at the time, Littlerock feature's an "evocative sense of place mere minutes into its short running time, but a pair of strange lead performances dulls the experience ... cinematographer Carl McLaughlin (also a co-writer) is the real star of Littlerock, as it latches on to the sights of America that so endear it to many travellers", so I was surprised to discover that Ott has made a sequel. Pearblossom Hwy should not - I repeat, should not - be confused, however, with the "twisted and sexy new vampire flick" starring Sophie Monk, called Pearblossom. I'm glad we got that straight!

Of all the original films from 2011 to get a sequel, this was one of the most unlikely candidates. And yet he were are with a fabulous new poster and intriguing trailer for Pearblossom Hwy. In the 90 seconds that this trailer plays I can tell that Ott's visual style and skills at picking wonderfully textured locations is still alive and well - even the title conjures some fantastic images - but returning actors Cory Zacharia and co-writer Atsuko Okatsuka are still there and if I ever do get the chance to see Pearblossom Hwy I do hope they've improved upon their performances, which were the original film's most problematic asset. Their characters appear to have slid from small town nobodies to big town casualties, like some sort of twist on Mulholland Drive's Los Angeles-set nightmare. Despite my misgivings to Littlerock, I can't help but be intrigued once more by the prospect of Pearblossom Hwy. More of the same or a richer sequel? We'll find out eventually, I suppose.

Pearblossom Hwy - Trailer from Small Form Films on Vimeo.


Oh, and this one apparently has Stephen Tobolowski in it. Yet another surprise, really.

So! Upon seeing the posted entry it turns out the film's production company - Small Form Films if you must know - don't actually want you to see the trailer anywhere else but on their Vimeo page. Good job, obscure film production company! Good job!

Friday, January 27, 2012

None of These Women are "Expecting"

These are awful.


"I shoved a basketball up my dress in between putting on all this make-up and having all that sex."


"See, if I hold this fake baby stomach like this it looks like I just came from a Jane Fonda Workout for Mommies class."


"When I invert my body like this it kinda looks like I'm actually preggers. Never mind that though, pregnancy sucks, but atleast I had time to do my hair up like a Texan football mom!"


"No really, I'm not pregnant. Do I look pregnant to you? Because I'm not. I'm not going to stand side on just so you can look at me pretending to be fat when I'm not actually fat. Do these eyebrows make me look pregnant?"


"I'm so full from that chicken salad, I could barf."

Those were awful.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: J. Edgar

J. Edgar
Dir. Clint Eastwood
Country: USA
Aus Rating: M15+
Running Time: 137mins

Hounded at every turn by a smothering mother, unable to freely express his love for a male co-worker in a conservative political landscape, disrespected by colleagues, and prone to bouts of cowardice at moments that called for heroics; it’s easy to assume that J Edgar Hoover lived a very sad life. None of that compares, however, to how drearily sad the film of his life, J. Edgar, is. Clint Eastwood directs his expansive tale with a wash of drab colours – the brown colour palate of Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy looks positively lively compared to the metallic near monochrome colour scheme of Eastwood and cinematographer Tom Stern – and a never-ending heavy-handedness. It’s Eastwood’s second film in a year that has been suffocated at the hands of grand ambitions that failed to materialise when a more intimate approach probably would have worked better.

Coming hot on the heals of the improbable box office success of Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady, J. Edgar takes a near identical flashback heavy approach to the life of Hoover, rather lazily played here by Leonardo DiCaprio, as an older, frail man looks back over his life. While it thankfully doesn’t use that terrible Margaret Thatcher biopic’s absurd ghost motif to get from one Wikipedia entry heading to the next, it does haphazardly jump around through time and space as if at whim with little thought as to how one memory leads to another. Why do the people in these sorts of films always have such perfectly linear, chronological memory?


As if the dour cinematography, lit seemingly only by low watt lamps and natural light filtered through grey skies, Eastwood’s twinkly jingle jangle score would certainly put a sour mood over the proceedings. Perhaps he is to be commended for eschewing the traditional overwrought John Williams type of music, but those same incessant piano keys getting stroked over and over again like some villainous cat is nigh on nauseating.

Of course, as tends to happen with films of this type, really interesting stuff is either glossed over or chucked out altogether. The screenplay by Dustin Lance Black (re-using his Milk structure to diminishing returns) appears to be trying to have it both ways, dotting the script with big grand moments of historical significance alongside small scenes between Edgar and his mother, played by Judi Dench on Autopilot, and his alleged lover and Associate FBI director, a wide-eyed Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson. Rarely complimenting each other in any way, I couldn’t help but suspect there was more interesting stuff to be said, especially since the private sequences are quite clearly just pulled out of thin air. Where was the public’s reaction to his private life? Where was the motivation behind the loyalty of Naomi Watts’ Helen Gandy? The list could go on and on. Meanwhile, a sequence addresses rumours of a fondness for cross-dressing is doesn’t feel like an organic part of the story at all, just merely tacked on for effect.


Too long, for sure, Eastwood and his editors, Joel Cox and Gary Roach, could have made the near two and a half hour length much less unwieldy by cutting out the unnecessarily repetitive scenes of Hoover recounting his memoirs to an eager fellow FBI agent (who puts new meaning to the term “paper pusher”). As DiCaprio’s heavily made-up elderly Hoover extols blank cheque platitudes about democracy, freedom and the fine line between right and wrong, it’s hard not to find the eyes rolling (or, even worse, drooping). Featuring some downright frightening make-up work on Armie Hammer – looking like some scary pod person from whence an alien entity is soon to burst free – and some truly ridiculous political impersonation – Christopher Shyer as Richard Nixon is just off the chart bad – gives J. Edgar an at times comical edge. Although I probably would have preferred some good ol’ fashioned hoots, Eastwood’s film is too much of a sad sack to let us even have that. The life of what the posters tell us is “the most powerful man in the world” has been filtered through so many sieves that it’s rendered dull. D-

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Unfortunate Moments in Blu-Ray Cover Artwork #57: Sleeping Beauty

Consider the artwork here for the UK blu-ray release of Julia Leigh's Sleeping Beauty. It uses the beautifully striking, yet hypnotically creepy, imagery of the Australian key art campaign and looks quite sumptuous as you would expect. Emily Browning and Rachael Blake surprisingly share above-the-title billing and they still wiggle Jane Campion's name on there for extra arthouse cred points. Where it all goes horrible wrong is in the selection of critic quotes that line the right hand side of the cover.

"STUNNING", says Total Film, and it's hard to argue with that placement. "POWERFUL", says The Guardian, and as long as it came from a legitimate review (oh hai Surviving Georgia, when's your DVD coming out?) then why not include a quote like that from such a known publication. Empire even calls it "MESMERISING AND HYPNOTIC", and since I have already trotted out the word hypnotic in the opening paragraph, I think we can all agree that I agree with such a sentiment. Still, the one that really irks me is... well, take a look for yourself and find out.


Talk about unfortunate positioning!

Sitting right underneath the tagline that read "What happens while she sleeps..." is a quote from Elle Magazine that reads "A JOY TO WATCH". I think I speak for everybody here when I say whaa....?!? Sleeping Beauty is, after all, a film about a girl who is drugged by a high class brothel den mother and promptly fondled by elderly gentlemen as she lays unconscious in bed, her naked body exposed for all to see. Despite the curious context of the quote in general - a great movie it is, but "a joy to watch" it is not - it's placement right under that tagline is simply horrendous. Who allowed that past? Leigh's film doesn't shy away from what happens when she sleeps; we see it all. We see the feeble older gentlemen completely starkers as they haphazardly flop this petite woman around the ornate bedroom as they try to wake up this sleeping beauty in some misguided attempt to reclaim their manhood. What goes on while she sleeps is not a joy to watch, in fact it's quite disturbing and troubling. I haven't read the Elle Magazine review that this quote is from, but I'm too concerned by it to do so. That the UK DVD distributor didn't think to recognise the inappropriateness of the quote and where it sat amongst the design is just as bad.

Joy to the world!

And then, of course, there is that (surely) strategically placed blu-ray logo in the small of Emily Browning's back. Someone's clearly have a laugh, yeah?

Monday, January 23, 2012

We Need to Talk About Katniss

Two things went through my mind when I saw this newly released poster for The Hunger Games. The first was that it reminded me an awful lot of both King Arthur (the Keira Knightley version from 2004) and Robin Hood (the Russell Crowe version of who cares that movie was terrible). The second was "archery. who knew?" Between this and We Need to Talk About Kevin, bows and arrows are becoming quite the violent piece of weaponry for modern day warfare.


Now, I haven't read any of The Hunger Games books so my knowledge of what the hell it's all about is limited, but I think I can gather that it's like Running Man with teenagers? Running Man meets Battle Royale, perhaps? Am I close? I know the cast are all too ridiculously good looking to be traipsing about the forest shooting at each other with arrows at each other, but at least the the pictures I've seen seem to imply it's going to theatrical verging on camp, which we love around here. Anything to be different from the mundane, vanilla look of so many other films aimed at that target audience.

Still, why is she called "Katniss"? Really. Every time I see it I read it as "Catnip" and that's probably not what the author intended, yeah?

(By the way - it's too hot right now to really do much so you might have to fend for yourself until I can summon enough energy to do anything.)

Review: Weekend

Weekend
Dir. Andrew Haigh
Country: UK
Aus Rating: MA15+
Running Time: 97mins

The mechanics of a one-night stand are explored in Weekend, the engaging sophomore feature of Andrew Haigh. Where this low budget British feature differs from the majority of films with similar premises is that both parties involved are men. However, to simply call it “a gay movie” would commit it a great disservice as the fragmented kaleidoscope of fleeting romantic pains and pleasures should resonate with gay and straight audiences in equal measure. Haigh and his lead actors, the superb Tom Cullen and Chris New, have created a richly textured navigation of modern day romance that never fails to pull powerful, human emotions out of its minimal, boutique setup.

Read the rest at Trespass Mag

A film that only grows in memory as time goes by, I really do hope Weekend finds some ounce of success at the Australian box office. Doubtful, but I hope so. The success of the film was only strengthened by a recent watch of Thomas Bezucha's Big Eden. Released in 2000, this film was naturally acclaimed by gay audiences, but I couldn't help but find the film a somewhat bizarre and deflating sit. I was initially impressed by the mere fact that it looked like it was filmed using a real cinematographer with an actual camera that cost money - what a novel idea - and that the music wasn't bouncy, pseudo porn soundtrack music, but real music that sounded like it was recorded in a studio with instruments. As nice as it was to see a gay romance storyline play out between actors like Arye Gross and Eric Schweig, hardly the typical romantic leads you'll find in gay or straight cinema, the film gives way to unrealistic and cliched plotting that becomes increasingly tiresome. There are characters here that could have been taken in some really interesting directions, but Bezucha, who also wrote the screenplay, lays the sweetness and light on thick with a trowel. As gorgeous as the scenery is, the action going on around it is rather colourless. The ending of Weekend could easily been a horribly cliched affair, but it's played so modestly and with utter realism that they get away with it. Yet, in Big Eden, it's hard not to chuckle when a characters makes the mad dash to the airport to stop the other one leaving. The floorboards creak as it lumbers about its familiar plot developments, whereas Weekend dances and weaves, using our familiarity with the genre tropes as a base to explore the inner turmoils of these characters. They were clearly going for something less artificial than, for example, Eating Out or Another Gay Movie, so why stifle that with cliche and quirk?

Also, while it's not like I think every film with gay characters set in Smalltown, USA should be Boys Don't Cry, I did feel that it was somewhat insensitive in it's naivety to make the town of Big Eden so comfortable with its lead's sexuality. Not one moment of conflict arises out of the situation and as lovely as it would be to live in a world where that is the case, it's just not the case and I found the film's reluctance to even broach the subject somewhat confounding. Big Eden coasts on little more than the belief that audiences - especially an audience made up predominantly of gay men - will want little more from a film than to see two men fall for each other and live happily ever after. Consider Weekend again and think about how much, even if you disliked them, we got to learn about these two men. They had real histories with problems both large and small, their personalities are so clearly defined that their growing romance appears more natural and realistic. There is so little of that in Big Eden as everyone acts like movie characters dealing only with big, cinematic dramas that can be written as easily and broadly as possible (dying dads! coming out! etc!)

Of course, I did enjoy seeing Tim DeKay without a shirt on though and we all know that's one of the most important factors in judging a piece of gay cinema, right?

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Right!

It's just a shame his character, by far the most interesting and complex of the lot, was shafted for Schweig whose idea of playing a shy character is to make them as boring and transparent as possible. Ah well. Weekend: A-, but a rewatch will probably shuck away any niggles I had and I'll have to bump it up. Big Eden: C

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Dream of Scream

It should be of little surprise to learn that Scream pops up in my dreams from time to time. Not necessarily for any real reason, just Sidney, Dewey, Gale and co appearing as if out of nowhere to remind that they are indeed very amazing. That they take up so much of my brain capacity still doesn't quite explain the tangent my brain took me on last night as I dreamt about a mythical Scream 6 - I am assuming the potential plot for the are-they-aren't-they Scream 5 is so blindingly obvious that my subconscious skipped it and immediately moved on to deeper recesses - that involved a Wes Craven's New Nightmare style meta twist to the franchise. That the Scream franchise is already meta enough means little since we know they're willing to do it.

Still, according to my brain, Scream 6 is all about how the Scream franchise is just a movie. Much like "Stab" was the film within the film world of Craven's four films, Scream is now the film within the film and, much like New Nightmare, Ghostface has returned to kill off the real life actors who played the parts. That means Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox and everybody else is ripe for the stabbing. Even Anna Paquin, apparently, whose brief role as a foul-mouthed Stab-hater in Scream 4 is enough to earn the mire of this new world Ghostface killer. A snippet of my remembered dream involved her True Blood co-star, Ryan Kwanten, running around covered in blood screaming "WHY DID THEY CAST ANNA PAQUIN?!?" Although do we really need another killer stalking Hollywood sets? As evidenced to the right there, there are people out there already making fan posters and writing fake scripts for later instalments to the franchise, so it's not like I'm the only one taking up their time by envisioning this sort of stuff, okay!

It's all completely ridiculous, of course, but I think it my brain trying to tell me "get on with your Scream to Scream, Scene by Scene project, okay!" to which I can hardly argue. Still, this was all just a funny happening, until I saw this this morning (I'm a little late, but what can ya do?) on Wes Craven's personal Twitter account.

Big spoilers ahead of Scream 4 if you have yet to see it! Shim Jembri doesn't care, but I do!


To me, it makes sense that any possible Scream 5 that may eventually get made (the diminished box office returns of Scream 4 made it less of a certainty, but I'm sure we'll still get one at some point, this is the horror genre) should involve Ghostface's "kill tapes" from Scream 4 making it online and a deranged fan deciding to finish the job. Much debate had been made on Scream franchise forums (yes, of course they exist) as to whether Hayden Panettiere's Kirby Reed had died or not. We knew she'd been seen writhing in a pool of blood, which fits in with the idea that nobody is dead in film and television unless you see their unmoving corpse (and even then...), but Dewey never mentioned her as surviving as he spoke to Jill at her bedside. Given that Jill had spoken of having seen all of her friends murdered at the hand of the "killers", that really did seem like something he would mention. "Hey Jill, your best friend Kirby is still alive after all." Maybe she just took some extra time to revive? Given Scream 4's very high mortality rate, allowing two of the new characters to survive hardly seems unfair (Deputy Judy Hicks being the other, of course).

The reason why all of this is so exciting to us fanatics is that, well, Hayden Panettiere's Kirby was freakin' awesome! Equal parts sass and smarts, with a strangely spunky cropped 'do, Panettiere played her pitch perfectly, and - potential issues of bias to the film aside - she's currently in my personal Best Supporting Actress ballot (alongside the likes of Carey Mulligan, Jessica Chastain, Louise Harris and Vanessa Redgrave). Third sequels to horror franchises rarely ever get a gift as strong as Panettiere's performance. It's a fiercely determined piece of acting, I think, and far stronger than anybody would give her credit for purely due to the reception the film received. Wonderfully mixing the film's tension with comedy, Hayden essentially walked away with the film and gave us Scream fans a true cannon character, which is something Scream 3's newbie characters certainly lacked outside of Jennifer Jolie (who was Gale on meth, basically). Scream: All Stars? She'd be there with bells on.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Drive Alternative

What? You didn't think I was going to let this delicious gallery of alternate Drive posters go by without mentioning it. I know it may look like I have Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive on my brain a lot lately - can you blame me? what with it being the best film of 2011, routinely popping up throughout American awards season, and starring Ryan Gosling who is seemingly everywhere except the American awards season. Still, I am extra alert to the film and it's artwork having just purchased a limited edition of this glorious poster. I'm glad I got in when I did because it's now sold out. It's going to look so good on my wall!

That design by James White is far and away the best poster I've seen for Drive. While I liked the initial hot pink on white concept, it didn't quite feel complete. And every subsequent poster since just didn't really have it, you know? All the best posters have been the unofficial ones like White's, which you can see in the blog's banner up the top. So, soon enough, I will have that glorious piece of work hanging on my wall and it's going to look amazing. Still, despite my ambivalence to most of Drive's marketing campaign, I did love seeing the development and the process that this Empire article shows that went into designing the British quad poster for the movie. While I can certainly see why they didn't go with them, there are some interesting designs within. I like the retro one that kicks off the gallery, as it reminded me of the even more retro poster for Carlos that came last year. That was delicious, wasn't it? The Drive one isn't quite as on point as Carlos in getting all the details just right, but it was an appreciated effort nonetheless.


Again, as much as I appreciate the concept, the following designs don't quite gel into a cohesive whole. As they say, if it had been illustrated by the likes of Drew Struzan then everyone would be screaming at how brilliant it is, but as it stands it's too Photoshopped and empty.



As I've already alluded to, I'm not the biggest fan of the final design (right). I love the colours with the neon blue and green, as well as the big, bold title, but Gosling looks far too Photoshopped (where's Emma Stone to recite her dialogue from Crazy, Stupid, Love?) and the typeface is far too boring. I do like the little anecdote about the bag he's holding actually being something the designers added in themselves (that's not Gosling's hand, apparently). Now that I think about it, this poster reminds me of Suburban Mayhem, which is a far better poster so how about you just go look at that one instead.

Click over to Empire to see all the rest.

Dixie Rapper

Have you been watching Hart of Dixie? It's hardly the most engrossing of television series on at the moment, but it plows the same ground as Men in Trees, which I got enjoyment out of so I keep watching. Hopefully Dixie will improve beyond its Gilmore Girls-without-the-dialogue trappings and become something more, but until then we have this rather baffling "Funny for Die" video. Featuring Hart of Dixie star, and former Summer Roberts of The OC, Rachel Bilson in character as a rapping doctor, it's... well, it's strange. It's not quite Natalie Portman (there's even a Black Swan joke!), but it's amusing nonetheless. And, plus, it gets bonus points for featuring Bilson's Dixie co-star Wilson Bethel.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Interruping Your Regular Programming...

... for some sexy Chris Evans action. Basically the only reason What's Your Number has to exist are for things like this. Enjoy.

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Bring on the blu-ray resolution screencaps, please. Let us all shower Jason at My New Plaid Pants for bringing them to our attention. Mucho appreciated.

I beg of you, don't ever change.

Posters from an Alternate Universe

By now you have surely already perused this Peter Stuits gallery of alternate universe movie posters. I usually find these sort of things to be fun, but rarely executed in a way that looks as real as these. While I love the idea of James Dean as "The Driver" in a 1950s version of Drive, I think that's almost too obvious (as would Paul Newman a decade later). No, I think Montgomery Clift would actually have made a great lead, don't you? Most of all I love the concepts behind The Hangover, Ghostbusters (with Vincent Price, of course), Avatar and The Fifth Element, but they're all very fun indeed.









Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New York, New York: My Awards Body Blues

Look, can we talk for a minute about the Broadcast Film Critics Awards, aka the Critics Choice Movie Awards, aka the Pre-Oscars Oscar Show? I finally got around to watching this show, albeit on fast forward and only stopping for the speeches, and found little to be inspired by. My impression of the group as little more than Oscar-baiting wannabes could hardly be challenged by their straight-faced rewarding of The Help, a film that the critical community hardly heaped effusive and universal acclaim upon, with three statues (granted, all for well-commended acting, but still...) or the nominations to films like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Where Do We Go Now? Still, one category that you'd find trouble faulting was the rewarding of Martin Scorsese with the "music and film" award. Seemingly apropos of nothing, although in the same year that he won a prize for George Harrison: Living in the Material World, if you're going to award anybody for the way the integrate music with motion pictures then you could hardly find a worthier choice (at least amongst the narrow field of people this organisation would be willing to bequeath airtime to).

However, as I watched the pre-speech clip reel I couldn't help but be sorely disappointed that one of Scorsese's - and, it must be said, cinema in general - finest moments was omitted. The maligned 1977 musical New York, New York was given oh but the briefest of shots amongst the clips of The Aviator, Hugo, Gangs of New York and every other Scorsese film imaginable whether they had important, integral, culturally significant music selections or not. I admit to being far more favourable to the infamous New York, New York than most others, but then I routinely find myself on a different wavelength with Scorsese's pictures to most. Hell, I think his latest, the Parisian childhood adventure Hugo is Marty's best work since The Age of Innocence (give or take The Aviator) so I know most of y'all probably won't take my opinions on the man all too seriously. Still, even if you hate (or, as in the case with most people, haven't even seen) New York, New York how can one choose not to include it amongst a montage of the director's finest musical moments? Unless Bob Dylan decided to strum a few bars in his performance, which I obviously pressed the fast forward button on, then it was left out in the tribute, which had little context.

New York, New York starred Robert DeNiro and Judy Garland Liza Minnelli impersonating Judy Garland in a tale of lovers whose opposing musical directions take them into tragic territory. It's messy, sure, but agile and spirited with Minnelli giving a sort of brilliant performance. The artifice that Scorsese lacquers on is not too dissimilar to Steven Spielberg's recent War Horse, except here it's a director truly experimenting and daring himself to do something he's never done before. The big climax is a breathtaking rendition of (the original, might I add, but sadly ignored by the Academy's original song category) "Theme from New York, New York" by Minnelli. Written by the famous duo of John Kander and Fred Ebb, the song would go on to become one of the most famous songs in the world as versions by Minnelli and Frank Sinatra both became standards.


So why the ignoring of it, one of the most definitive pop cultural moments that Scorsese has ever been involved with, in a package that was supposed to be so specifically tuned to his achievements at blending cinema with music. Were the BCFA's shoes wanting to stray? As critics, they should know well and good not to base opinion of a film on what was spoken about it at time of release. Granted, New York, New York leans much closer to the feminine side of Scorsese's filmography alongside Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, The Age of Innocence and The Aviator, but even the most manly of men can get a bit damp in the eye and dry in the throat over Liza's song so it's exclusion can hardly be put down to "it's a bit too gay" or whatever reductive thought could come from such detours of the brain. I mean, hear and see the crowd's reaction in this live performance (I assume at the opening ceremony of the Olympics? I'm not too sure) to see what I mean.


Basically, the BFCA are awful and pander to the general consensus both in their awards and in their summation of this man's career. That I know of a few members who are smart, unique and erudite means little when the end results speak as beige as they do. I obviously think you could do far worse than watch New York, New York (must watch the extended version featuring the infamous "Happy Endings" sequence), but I know it's place as a famous flop does little to encourage, especially when a critics organisation can't even be bothered remembering it (oh, but Daniel Day-Lewis tapping his glass eye in Gangs of New York? So music oriented!!) Oh well. They can keep their Bob Dylan as long as I get Liza. Fair trade, I say.

Don't toast the BFCA, Kirsten. They forgot about you, too!

I Want... 15 Thoughts from The Golden Globes

The Golden Globes! You either love them in spite of themselves, or you hate them. Every year people watch them expecting them to change and then somehow feign shock when they give a statue to Madonna or when they prefer one movie to another (like every other awards organisation known to mankind). Every year in the lead up there are articles about how dodgy the organisation is and, well, who can argue with them except to maybe point them in the direction of this Slate article that at least points to some of the Hollywood Foreign Press' finer moments (and let's not forget when their starfuckery allows them to nominate Nicole Kidman for Birth!) Sure, they're hardly the greatest organisation known to man, but I'll take them over the Broadcast Film Critics Association any day of the week (more on them soon) who, quite literally, have no other reason to exist than to predict Oscars. The Golden Globes' reason to exist is to see hundreds of celebrities in one place whilst simultaneously hoping they get drunk and make balls of themselves on national TV in between occasionally handing out some awards.

After yesterday's show I learnt a few things and thought I would share. I'm giving like that, you see.

I want... an alien invasion film starring alien goddess herself, Tilda Swinton! Just imagine it! We've seen so many alien invasion movies over the history of cinema - and these last few years in particular - but never has one of them actually starred Tilda Swinton who is an actual alien goddess from an intergalactic dimension. Which one she's from I am not entirely sure since our puny human brains can't comprehend their native language, but I'm sure somebody in Hollywood's script-writing circles can come up with a good name for it. In the grand scheme of the things, I think I'd rather Earth be overtaken by a galaxy-hopping band of Swintonites with their immaculately coiffed hair and delicately dressed bodies that would most certainly float about as if walking on air. Better than Battle: Los Angeles, surely.

I want... Michael Fassbender. Aka Michael Fassboner. Aka we've already seen his dick so the constant jokes about it being the size of War Horse are a touch off base, but it's still fun to hear a man's genitals so opening discussed in pop culture rather than merely the size of a woman's breasts. Sure, it's reversed objectification, but we are only human and gawking at pretty people is surely just a part of our DNA. And, hey, if it's good for George Clooney...

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At least Michael here is having fun with it. You bite that finger, Michael.

I want... this hilarious accidental Charlie's Angels snapshot to become "a thing". It's cute and funny and even though I have no idea who the lady in yellow is, I just love the way she accidentally posed in front of one of the red carpet helpers (a better job than a Christmas time Santa helper since you at least get to wear nicer clothes? other than that I can't figure how that job is any less demeaning) and that both of them look like they're gunning for Charlie's Angels 4.0 - I never saw the recent Charlie's Angels reboot series, but heard it was entirely deserving of being axed/nominated for Best Musical/Comedy at the Globes. She chin modelling, the other swiping away a strand of hair. It's Charlie's Angels or a really lame romantic comedy, one of the two.

I want... more Sofia Vergara. Like, in everything. She is clearly best in show on Modern Family (although let's not forget Julie Bowen, who I was so glad won the Emmy last year because that sort of straight man performance can go criminally ignored and unrewarded - still, why hasn't Vergara won one yet?) and at yesterday's event (and many times prior) proved that she has the ability to pull that personality out of a hat at any given moment. The speech she helped give for the series' win in Best Comedy Series was one of the very, very few speech jokes that actually worked. Plus: this


I just love how completely unphased she is by everything and continues to be a big ol' elastic dork. She and Charlize Theron had such great, overflowing personalities during the awards red carpet and subsequent show (even with Theron suffering from laryngitis!) that it's hard to imagine how anyone could find the likes of Rooney Mara interesting when these two are within a million miles.

I want... this Gerard Butler in a romantic comedy. Not the mean-spirited, badly American accented, misogynistic Gerard Butler that we got in The Ugly Truth, but the sexy, fun, somewhat charming Gerard Butler that he's showing off in this photo. I mean, we all know he's got a bit of oomph with his clothes off, but yesterday he was looking quite swank with the beard and the curly hair and the three-piece tuxedo. Should I be wanting to see this Machine Gun Preacher movie? I doubt it, but maybe with that and Coriolanus, Butler's own attitude to his career is changing and that is always a good thing. Don't let dumb American romcoms and burly action films that all "it" actors get given define your career, Gerard!

Bitches, please!

Perhaps I'm alone on this, but a beard and curly hair combo will get me nearly every time (see also further down the list as well as the unseen Bradley Cooper).

I want... a Michelle Williams and Busy Phillips buddy comedy! Think Dick (oh hush up!), but even better! Actually, put her Dick co-star, Kirsten Dunst, in all of Williams' upcoming dramatic movies (she proved she's up to the task with Melancholia) and put Williams in something bubbly and comedic that Dunst is more likely to veer towards. Assign Busy Phillips as her new co-star and voila, movie magic! The best thing to ever come out of Michelle Williams receiving an awards nomination is that she will inevitably bring Busy Phillips along as her plus one, and for that we should be eternally grateful. Busy is Amaze, as Joe Reid put it on Twitter, "pulling focus in all background shots."


Please bring back Cougar Town, y'all! What! Whaaat!

I want... Laura Dern cast in more things. Like, basically anything. I will take Laura Dern in ANYTHING! I haven't even seen any of this Enlightened program and I squealed when her name was announced as the winner of Best Actress in a Comedy Series (or whatever the Globes' ridiculously long category name is). She is always good value, whether its as unofficial David Lynch muse (Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, INLAND EMPIRE), in thorny arthouse titles (Citizen Ruth, We Don't Live Here Anymore, Year of the Dog), big budget blockbusters (Jurassic Park), family fare (October Sky), icy political biopic (another Golden Globe-winning performance in Recount), or any of her other roles (hey, remember her on Ellen?!). One of the awards' highlights was watching Dern's mother, her Wild at Heart and Enlightened co-star Diane Ladd, getting very emotional seeing her daughter on stage.

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And, hey, if she shows up to awards shows looking like she did yesterday then please nominate her every single year! Christmas tree gif courtesy of The Film Experience. THE FACE!


I want... Ewan McGregor. No explanation necessary, right? RIGHT?!?! Words, there are none. Don't even try, 'cause he's still got it.




Even now. Still. Never quit.

I want... Seth Rogen. Sorry, I do. I can't help it, I just can't. It's the curly hair, the glasses, the scruff, the laugh, the "hysterical comedy" quip about My Week With Marilyn... all of it, you guys! Inappropriate boner gag included. Seth Rogen in a three-piece suit was at least partly why I enjoyed The Green Hornet so much (partly! PARTLY!). There's just something so adorably about him and I look forward to seeing him in 50/50 and Take This Waltz in 2012.

I want... Jessica Chastain and Melissa Leo to co-star as a mother-daughter Texan trailer trash pair who "done good", but still can't shake their pasts. Of course, Chastain must have the same hair that she wore down the red carpet yesterday and Leo must be as bizarrely coiffed as she was at the 2008 Academy Awards when she was nominated for Frozen River. It'll be big hair paradise and we know they can do unshakeable trash (The Help, The Fighter)!


Either that or Jessica Chastain can just star in a comedy Fergie!: Dutchess of Yorkshire Puddings as Sarah Ferguson. You just know if that particular biopic was ever made that it would have to be a comedy. No way could they Iron Lady out that doozy of a story into anything remotely close to being a drama.

I want... Jean Dujardin! Yeah, yeah, but he is a charm factory! It's like a box factory, but instead of plain ol' brown cardboard boxes he makes boxes that when you open them they spill glitter and shiny things all over the place and then you get a bit annoyed because you have to vacuum that shit up, but still enjoy the sentiment. Which is basically my completely ridiculous analogical way of saying that I totally get what The Artist is all about and I appreciate it for that, but there are still quibbles to be had (mostly the second act). Still, I cannot fault Jean Dujardin who is a charm fac... wait, I've said that already. Anyway, he's super adorable and that speech probably went a great deal of the way to put him in at least joint second for the Oscar (with Brad Pitt, Clooney is still - depressingly - out front, I reckon). That silent speech gag was a treat! Any time he wants to use that "too expressive" face near me is a-okay!

I want... these three women to get the credit their outfits demand.


Jamie Bell was right, Evan Rachel Wood did stun!


In regards to fashion, I was also a fan of Laura Dern, Emma Stone, Tilda Swinton, Viola Davis, Emily Blunt (who didn't walk the red carpet as far as I can tell, but looked amaze in a canary yellow sequin number), Madeleine Stowe, Octavia Spencer, Salma Heyak (or, at least, the skirt), Madonna, Tina Fey, Sofia Vergara (loved the texture to that mermaid tail), Nicole Kidman, Sarah Michelle Gellar (an unpopular choice, sure, but I dug it), Angelina Jolie (love the bold splash of colour that brings your attention to her face and not, say, her arse or left leg or whatever) and Kate Winslet.

I want... more shout outs to the likes of Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre) and Adepero Oduye (Pariah) by the likes of Meryl Streep. So much more deserving than George Clooney yet again talking about just how gosh darn great Brad Pitt. If he's so great, how about you go back in time and tell the Globe voters to vote for him instead of you. I mean, Moneyball is a far better film than The Descendants by a long, wide margin and Pitt is much better, effortlessly so which probably explains the reason why Moneyball hasn't become his own Erin Brockovich, than Clooney, too. Basically, The Descendants and The Iron Lady are so incredibly shit that even their winners can't help but give props to other more deserving candidates. I feel like I've gone off track with this one and since I didn't like what Meryl was wearing, I will not include a picture.

I want... more of this at awards shows!

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Viola Davis thanking the waiter for topping up her champagne was one of the highlights of the event. And, if I remember correctly, this was before her category was even announced so had she won we would have hopefully had a funny, somewhat drunken speech to go alongside the elegant, eloquent speech she gave the Critics Choice awards just a few days earlier.

I want... more of this while we're at it!

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Can these two make a movie together that's not, ya know, Baby Mama or whatever that shite was. Actually, can Tina Fey just try and make a movie as good as Mean Girls again? Remember that? That was fun.

I want(ed)... Ryan Gosling. He was apparently swanning about some foreign country filming a movie, but I wanted him in my bedroom TV set. In a day full of upsetting and depressing events (The Descendants, Ricky Gervais back on TV, Elton John, etc) he would have been a bright star. Alas, not even two nominations could convince him to hop back over the pond and attend the soiree and dazzle us with his impeccable dress code and good looks. Basically, worst Golden Globes ever!

Ryan Gosling... too cool for school the Golden Globe Awards.