Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Why I Love Movies:

Because they are dreams on demand.

Iron Man 2: Ensemble: Assemble!


There is quite a lot riding on this film. Iron Man has become the fledgling Marvel Studios flagship title; part one was the first solo production by the comic-book company, and a gamble on a lesser-known character, an actor-turned-director and a former wreck-head star.

Low expectations led to a very pleasant surprise in the shape of a fun, funny, exciting film which brought RDJ roaring back to the A-list and marked Jon Favreau as a blockbuster camera-pointer to be reckoned with. It also made Marvel an arse-load of cash, enabling them to fully open their stable and release the incoming wild-horses that are "Thor", "Captain America" and the one film to bind them all "The Avengers".

So, can Iron Man 2 continue on the promise of the original? Will raised expectations set an unattainable precedent? Is the Marvel cruise-liner about to spring a leak?

Hell no.

"Iron Man 2"is to "Iron Man" as "The Dark Knight" was to "Batman Begins". Obvious comparison, but the boot fits. Bigger, more intricate, more exciting, with more interesting villains and more for the supporting characters to do.

This isn't to say that Iron Man 2 is "darker" than the first - unusual in today's market, where "dark" is the new black - merely that it is a more complex piece of work, dealing with the repurcussions of the origin story laid out in the first film.


We rejoin the tale with Tony Stark displaying dangerous signs of an Icarus complex, riding a wave of adulation on the back of Iron Man's seemingly unstoppable onslaught on the evils of the world. He runs rings round U.S. senators, is the main attraction at a Stark Industries expo and is basically accting like he's in The Beatles or summat. He is obviously cruising for a bruising; acting as if he is untouchable, claiming that no one can go toe to toe with him. He's getting too big for his shiny hotrod-red boots.

His wake-up call comes in the form of Mickey Rourke's Russian ex-con Ivan Vanko, armed with a wacky cyber-punk bondage get-up. The first action-scene is a long time coming, but when it does arrive, we see that Favreau has come a long way since the first film, pacing the sequence to perfection, balancing spectacle and intimacy and making even the computer-generated smack-downs feel bone-crunching.

From there, we embark on a story of Tony's ever-inflating/deflating ego, Vanko's quest for vengeance and Justin Hammer(Sam Rockwell)'s efforts to usurp Stark as the chief weapons manufacturer in the U.S.

The film is much more of an ensemble than the first, with Downey evenly matched by an entire cast of scene-stealers. Rockwell shines the brightest as the preening, jealous pretender to Stark's throne, Rourke is a brooding, eccentrically formidable presence, Sam Jackson makes the most of his intermittent screentime, Don Cheadle is a fine replacement for Terrence Howard, Favreau gives himself some decent comic-relief moments and Gwyneth Paltrow has an easy, believable chemistry with Downey.

Scarlett Johansson is arguably the weak link, not through any fault of hers, but simply because her character seems like so much window-dressing for most of the runtime. She makes up for this in the final act, however, when she cuts loose and starts spraying cans of whup-ass all over the screen. And, even when she is just window-dressing, she makes you want to run into the shop and buy EVERYTHING.


A lot of us nerds were afraid of "Spider-Man 3"-style, too-many-cooks-syndrome effecting the apparently character-laden story of this film, but there is very little evidence of that. It could be argued that Johansson and Rourke are underserved with screen-time, but each and every principle character is allowed their moment in the spotlight and nobody feels as if they're just there to sell an action figure.

Easily as funny and entertaining, and arguably more exciting and action-packed than the original, this does everything that a sequel should do: more of the same, but different. Bigger, bolder, more confident. Favreau handles most of the action in a similarly improved manner to the first showdown (on a Monte Carlo race-track), with the only disappointment being a slightly muted and brief "final battle", following a spectacular and chaotic "almost final battle".

It might be a little too long, with one too many storylines jostling for attention (a subplot about Tony having to come up with an alternate power-source for his suit - due to radiation poisoning or some gubbins - travels dangerously close to uninteresting), but you really don't have to wait long for another laugh or cheer to arise.

On the strength of this film, Marvel's stall will be set out for a good amount of time yet. Avengers: Assemble!



People make a lot of phone-calls in this film. Actually, I don't remember those shots of Rockwell and Johansson being in the movie. Deleted scenes?

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Sam Worthington: What's the Deal?


The astronomical rise of Sam Worthington is a mystery to me. Does he perform sexual favours for directors? Does he have a micro-film containing pictures of certain studio-bosses in compromising situations? Has he sold his soul to Satan?

If he had made any kind of impact in the films he has been thrust front-and-centre of in the past year or so, you could almost say Worthington had exploded into the industry. Blown up. Smashed his way onto the A-list. But as it is, it's more like he's kind of just suddenly THERE, like a piece of furniture or a shop-front mannequin.

Worthy is the new go-to guy for broody, stoic action hero performances that plumb shallow depths of emotion, and characterisation that amounts to nothing more than a blank-slate for audiences to project themselves onto.

Don't get me wrong, the man seems like a decent, down-to-earth bloke; ruggedly handsome, looks like he could do you in if he wanted to, but I cannot fathom why he has become the leading man of choice for so many high-profile projects when, on the strength of the performances I have seen him give, he is not up to the task.

I first experienced Worthy in the slightly dull "Terminator: Salvation" and, from the outset, I was thinking "That guy sounds Australian to me". His half-hearted accent was the weakest part of an otherwise solid, if a little bland performance marred by some terrible dialogue and the overall sombre tone of the film.


Then he was in the Giant Blue Cat-People film. You know the one. This was a slightly more colourful performance in more ways than the obvious, as his Jake Sully starts out as an arrogant prick and has to turn into some kind of noble warrior type thing, but still Worthington struggles with the American accent. He often sounds like an Aussie bricklayer who has stumbled onto the set and said "I can do a yank accent!" moments before they rolled. Hang on...

Sully spends about 60% of the film dressed as one of the blue cat people, so Worthington's performance had to be captured by computer and animated digitally, which must have been nigh-on impossible as he delivers another somnabulist turn punctuated by one or two humanising flourishes: a smile here, puppy-dog eyes there, which only serve to accentuate what a void he is for the rest of the duration.

Of course, the actors are second fiddle to the images in "Avatar", but Worthington is dominated by everyone else in the film. Zoe Saldana is emotional, expressive and dynamic, while Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver and Giovanni Ribisi repeatedly run away with scenes while Worthington is busy furrowing his brow.

Now, some would say that this is a performance of subtlety and texture, but I would say "BALLS" to that. It's as though Worthy simply can't be arsed a lot of the time, like he's not convinced by the part or the script or something. He's just riding it out until they call "cut" and he can go to the pub.


In "Clash of the Titans", Worthy plays Perseus in the same manner he's performed in every film I've seen him in. Like a lunk-headed scrum-half with an emotion-bypass. His family get killed. He frowns a bit and doesn't say much. He finds out he's the son of a god. He frowns a bit more. Etc. And he doesn't even seem to be attempting to disguise his Aussie accent this time!

It's not that I find Mr Worthington particularly bad, it's just that, on the strength of these films, he is no more charismatic or convincing on screen than Keanu Reeves or Orlando Bloom (for example), and yet he is suddenly the next big thing, expected to carry HUGE movies on his own back and kick off massive opening weekends.

He has a burly physicality, for sure (the scene in "Terminator" where he kicks in the heads of Moon Bloodgood's would-be rapers was brutal and believable), and I must admit that I haven't seen any of his smaller, earlier work such as "Somersault" or "Rogue", but I genuinely can't grasp why Worthington has gone from bit-parts and indies to blockbuster figurehead overnight. What's the deal?

Monday, 26 April 2010

Ten Movie Facts About Me

Kid in the Front Row has decreed that I must disclose ten movie facts about myself, before nominating two other bloggers to do the same.

In the vain hope that they may read this, I nominate Sugary Cynic at Sugary Cynicism and TS at The Non-Review to divulge their own ten. Both these blogs are amusing and deserving of your attention!

Here's ten movie-related facts about me:

1. I do not have a favourite film. When pressed, I could present a list of about thirty films that mean more to me, personally, than others; regardless of their actual quality or critical value.


2. I write movie and tv scripts as a kind of hobby, but my chronic procrastination and terminal lack of motivation means it can take years to finish a single project and then I never get 'round to doing anything with the ones I do finish anyway.


3. I think "Hudson Hawk" is the most criminally under-rated film in the history of cinema. Terminally misunderstood, it was condemned upon its release as a nonsensical Bruce Willis vanity-project, mispromoted as an action film and is widely thought of as a legendarily bad movie. It is, infact, a brilliantly executed absurdist adventure romp which is simply too violent and sweary to be a kids' film and too nut-bag silly to placate the action crowd. Even Andie McDowell isn't that bad in it. For reals.


4. I think Johnny Depp's best performance is in "Finding Neverland".


5. Ironically, for someone so in love with the medium of film, I fully hate film itself. Working as a projectionist, you spend a large portion of your time untangling loops and knots of film, trying not to scratch prints, heaving entire films from one screen to another, hefting film-cases up and down stairs and trying to thread uncooperative 35mm strips of bastardry through improbably small slots and 'round unyeilding bobbins. Film is a pain in the arse. Watching a movie on film in the digital age is like listening to a cassette instead of a cd. Film must die.

Some will think me a philistine, but I don't know what that word means. I think movies should still be allowed to be shot on film, if that's what the director wants, but the days of paying wads of cash to watch a scratchy, jittery print with flickering black specks all over it are numbered.


6. I prefer "Return of the Jedi" to "Star Wars" (that's "A New Hope", if you're a tosser).


7. After doing a job in which I am occasionally paid money to sit in empty auditoriums and watch the latest releases, I find it increasingly less appealing to attend public shows. The main complaint made in cinemas is disturbances caused by other customers, so why would I want to put myself back in the fray? Due to this, and the fact that the thought of coming in to work to watch a film on my day off fills me with abject terror, I actually watch less films now than I did before I worked at the cinema. If I don't get chance to see a flick before it goes infront of the baying mob, then I usually won't peep at it 'til it comes out on dvd.


8. I made a series of short films (of varying quality) with a projectionist friend of mine. They can be viewed here.


9. I used to work at Blockbuster Video. We would get seven free rentals a week, and I frequently used all mine up and then borrowed from the other members of staff. This is not where my love of film began, but it was a period in my life when I watched more films than any other.

Blockbuster Anecdote: I was on the shop floor, putting some returns back on the shelves, and there was a little boy of about three or four years running around the shop, screaming and basically being a little prick. The shop was pretty busy, and I thought "That kid's parents most be right wankers". The very moment I formed this thought, a man standing next to me turned to the little kid and shouted "Morpheus! Get here, now!"

I was right.


10. In a fight between Indiana Jones, James T. Kirk, Thomas "Neo" Anderson, "Dirty" Harry Callahan, the two-headed monster from "Willow", Han Solo, Beatrix "The Bride" Kiddo, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, James Bond and Jason Bourne, I think Bourne would win. He'd bash everyone in with a book or a magazine or summat. Be a good fight, though.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A Not Very Important Date



Steve Carell is funny. I have it on pretty good authority that Tina Fey is one of the funniest women on the face of this island Earth. So surely this film should be some kind of comedic alchemy? A meeting of hilarious minds so cataclysmically amusing as to destroy the very foundations that all humour is built on?

Maybe that's overstating it a bit, but anyway; it's not.

"Date Night" is a mildly amusing romp through a vaguely Hitchcocky mistaken-identity thriller plot, punctuated with cameos ranging from the entertaining to the infuriatingly pointless and wasteful.

Carrell and Fey play a complacently married couple who con their way into a swanky restaurant by claiming an absent couple's reservation. They are soon embroiled in a convoluted plot involving bent coppers, mob bosses, strip-clubs, car chases and Marky Mark.

It's a slight and simple experience - with a few token attempts at characterisation actually feeling unwelcome amidst the general tomfoolery - that will appropriately pass an hour and a half on a perfunctory date night. There is the feeling, however, of a missed opportunity here.


Carrell and Fey are cast as self-confessed "boring" characters, seriously hampering their comedy-potential and only allowing them to really generate laughs when their gift for absurdity shines through in some silly voice or non-sequitur, meaning it is up to the supporting players to steal the show.

James Franco does more in three minutes of screen-time than most actors manage in an entire career, Mila Kunis is a decent foil for him as the catty other half of the couple the leads are mistaken for, Marky Mark has his top off for an agreeably tongue-in-cheek appearance, and Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig, Ray Liotta and William Fichtner are completely wasted in appearances that amount to little more than "Hey, isn't that... oh, (s)he's gone.".

Anyway, this is one of those films where the majority of the good lines are in the trailer and the biggest laughs come from the blooper reel during the end credits. Neither an insult nor a compliment to the cinema or its audience, "Date Night" just kind of exists for a bit and then dissipates into the ether; forgotten as a dream upon waking, leaving you wondering if you ever saw it at all.

Personally, I would much rather have seen a film about Franco and Kunis' trashy scenestealers "selling stolen wheelchairs" for ninety minutes, but Franco was always my favourite in Spider-Man, and I genuinely think Kunis exudes solar illumination from a certain bodily orifice, so I may be biased.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Upcoming Films that Fill me With Dread

Here's some films that are due out this year which make me wish I didn't have eyes and ears.

As some of these films are a long way from release, they don't have official stills or trailers so, in that case, simply read the words and try to use your mental imaging faculties to create an impression of what the film might look like. It's fun!



(All opinions featured in this post are completely unfounded and speculative and liable to be revoked without notice. Post contains strong language)



The Back-Up Plan


Jennifer Lopez in a comedy. You need more? It's about artificial insemination. More? The trailer features a scene where she faints and falls into a birthing pool. There we go. J-Lo doused in blood and excrement and afterbirth. If this were a documentary, I would be queueing already.


Resident Evil: Afterlife


Why? Why do these movies keep happening? The series started out badly and got worse and worse. It's like having a 6 year old talk you through the plot of the video games, trying to convince you how awesome they are by doing gun-noises and waving his arms about. And all the fuss that trailer makes about the 3D? As if the series wasn't an empty exercise in juvenile style-over-substance in the first place, now they're going to try to dazzle us by wafting things in front of our eyes. I wonder if Milla Jovovich's face will be airbrushed beyond recognition in this one?


Sex and the City 2


I heard Kim Catrall on the radio saying that she would be docked a lot of pay if she revealed any spoilers about this film. Let me save her the trouble: It's about a quartet of vapid cunts stumbling around manhatten, gurning about shoes and cock and then going to another country and gurning about shoes and cock. And then one of them gets married. Or has a baby. Or gets divorced.


The Karate Kid


First off: Karate Kid didn't need remaking. It's either a nostalgic childhood classic or a dated piece of eighties memorabilia, depending on your point of view. Either way, updating it is an excercise in futility. The fact that this seems to be the result of Jayden Smith saying "Mommy, Daddy, can I have my own movie? PLEASE?" is just extra insulting (Will and Jada produced it). Plus, how hard would it have been to call it "The Kung-Fu Kid"? Kung-Fu is mentioned throughout the trailer and the film's set in China, where Kung-Fu is much more common than Karate. Fucking brand recognition. Oh, and I think someone, somewhere has a voodoo-doll of Jackie Chan which they keep putting in shit.


Grown-Ups


It's like the shit-comedian perfect-storm. A veritable Z-team of hilarity-voids. I fully expect that, after watching this film, any ounce of good-humour will have been forcibly vaccuumed from my heart. And Chris Rock doesn't count. He's not made a funny film for years, if any. Just watch that fucking trailer. Sandler. Spade. Schneider. Kevin James falling down. Schneider kisses an old woman! Maria Bello breast-feeds a four year-old kid! With HILARIOUS CONSEQUENCES! There's a fucking rope-swing gag, for fuck's sake! "Oh, I've got an idea, let's put a fat guy on a rope swing! Everyone's gonna think he'll fall off, right? So we'll confound expectations by having him hit a tree! And then fall off." Salma Hayek and Maria Bello continue the bizarre wish-fulfilment tradition of beautiful women pairing up with schlubby blokes in terrible comedies (see also Couples Retreat), and Steve Buscemi's in it apparently, n'all. FOR SHAME!


Unstoppable

A rail company frantically works to prevent an unmanned, half-mile-long freight train carrying combustible liquids and poisonous gas from wiping out a city.Denzel Washington and Tony Scott re-team on what sounds like a re-hash of an old episode of "Due South". Or that "Death Train" TV movie with James Bond and Professor X.

Oh, and I couldn't find a picture from "Unstoppable", so here's one from that "Due South" episode:




Beastly


Are you getting a little dry, waiting for the next Twilight film? Well, fear not, because here's that lowest thing imaginable, a TWILIGHT RIPOFF! Oh, it's "Beauty and the Beast" updated! Fuck off, it is. It's a mopey teen cash-in with another young fitty with his top off to get the twi-hards damp enough to tide them over till "Sunrise" or whatever the fuck it's called. The main character is a superficial twat, so one of the Olsen twins (I shit ye not) puts a curse on him to make him ugly. Which apparently involves making him bald and have tattoos. The entire Maori race should be up in arms about this film. And NPH is in it. Why, Dr Horrible, WHY?


Piranha 3D


As a concept alone, this film would've been one to look forward to. 3D stupid horror about killer fish chasing birds in bikinis? Hooper from Jaws and Doc Brown and Fat Vern from Stand By Me? Genius. Then I saw the (very poor quality above)trailer and realised it would be a parade of shonky CGI, ropey post-prod 3D and phoned in performances. What could've been "so bad it's good", looks more like being "so bad it's bum-burger".


The Twilight Saga: Eclipse


So this is the one where it all kicks off right? That's why they hired the director of "30 Days of Night", isn't it? Then why does the trailer look exactly like the previous film? How can something that pompously anounces itself as a "Saga" be so dramatically inert? Oh, poor Bella can't decide between Edward's twinkly torso and Jacob's muscular man-tits, whatever will she do? The Ginger Vampire Girl has regenerated into Ron Howard's daughter, but is still running around the forest looking for some narrative momentum, and Dakota Fanning is giving them shit again. "I 'm gonna fight for you until your heart stops beating"? Is that supposed to be romantic, because it sounds a lot like a psycho-stalker threat. Oh, I forgot; Twilight fans can't tell the difference. Absolute arse-dribble.


Yogi Bear

Oh, just fuck off.

Upcoming Films that I am Curious About: Part Two

Here's some more films that are due out this year which have my attention for one reason or another.

As some of these films are a long way from release, they don't have official stills or trailers so, in that case, simply read the words and try to use your mental imaging faculties to create an impression of what the film might look like. It's fun!


(All opinions featured in this post are completely unfounded and speculative and liable to be revoked without notice)



Due Date


Robert Downey Jnr (the New King of You) and beardy Zach Galifianikis get together with the director of The Hangover for a "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" rehash about a bloke trying to get home for the delivery of his baby. Not by DHL or summat, I mean from a lady's womb. Seemingly lame idea gets my attention by having RDJ on board. Seriously, I would watch a cardboard box if I thought he was in it.


The Sorcerer's Apprentice


Judging from the trailer; Nic Cage goes from subtly ridiculous scene-stealing in "Kick-Ass" to being out-performed by his wig again. It's based on that bit in "Fantasia" when Mickey Mouse gets raped by loads of brooms, features the nerd-box from "Tropic Thunder" and "Knocked Up" as the titular apprentice, has Doc Ock, the Legend that is Toby Kebbell and people hurling Street Fighter-style fireballs around. Amusing family adventure romp, or load of sweaty toss-beans? It's up in the air at the moment.


Centurion/Eagle of the Ninth

It's battle of the ninth legions as Neil Marshall's high-octane runaround/slashemup "Centurion" goes head to head with Kevin Mcdonald's Roman GI Joe-thing, "The Eagle of the Ninth".



Marshall's film sounds more simplistic and actiony, dealing with a legion - trapped behind enemy lines in Scotland - having to fight their way to safety. Kind of like "Bravo Two Zero" with leather skirts. Its strong cast is headed up by Michael Fassbender, Jimmy McNulty and Mickey the Idiot from Doctor Who, and features Olga Kurylenko from the "Question of Sport" Bond film as some kind of mute, Pictish assassin. Sounds like hearty chuckles all round, but Marshall has a spotty history from the sublime ("Dog Soldiers", "The Descent") to the ridiculous ("Doomsday"). Here's hoping it swerves more towards the earthy camaraderie and punchy violence of his debut werewolf/Sean Pertwee extravaganza.


McDonald's film, meanwhile, deals with the aftermath of the incidents which inspired "Centurion". Twenty years after the disappearance of the Ninth legion (is that a spoiler for "Centurion", then?) a young centurion heads into Scotland to find out what went on. It sounds more contemplative and dramatic than choppy and slicey, dealing with the centurions quest to make peace with his absent father or summat. McDonald made the excellent "Last King of Scotland" and "Touching the Void", and the pretty decent "State of Play", so should bring a studied, observant realism to proceedings, but may be completely scuppered by his leading man. Channing Tatum is a fucking mannequin. Here's hoping he can come to life like Kim Cattrall. "And we can build this thing together..."


Buried


Ryan Reynolds gets buried alive in a coffin with nothing but a lighter and a mobile phone. That's it. That's all it is. That's going to take some Hitchcock skills to make an enjoyable film out of, so I am curious to find out how it goes.


Your Highness


This seems worth a look simply because of the sheer peculiarity of it. Apparently it's a stoner comedy set in a Narnia-style medieval fantasy world. Yep. Danny McBride is always good for a chuckle, James Franco still has uncharted comedic fathoms, there's the double-whammy nerd-fantasy of Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel, and I read somewhere that they have Harryhausen-style stop-motion monsters instead of trendy CGI. Director David Gordon Green has compared it to "Krull", and McBride has said that, upon viewing a cut of the film, he couldn't believe somebody actually gave them the money to make it. Which is a good thing, right?


Salt


Now, I like a bit of Angelina Jolie as much as the next man (you know which bit I mean), but there's a bit in that trailer where she's running and jumping in MASSIVE clod-hopping boots that just makes me think "that's incredibly detrimental to the verisimilitude of the piece". In layman's terms, it looks FUCKING STUPID. This gets on the list because, although it looks like "Mission: Impossible" with a hot chick instead of a dinky man, it also looks quite fun, exciting and features Sabretooth and the Operative as the Tommy Lee Joneses on Angie's shapely fugitive tail.


Let Me In

"Let the Right One In" was one of my favourite films of last year, so I am loathe to accept this Yankee remake. The casting of the kid from "The Road" as the male lead and Hit-Girl as his blood-sucking bestie goes a little way to generating hope, however, and Matt Reeves' work on "Cloverfield" shows he can tell a surprising story with a lot of grit and no compromises. I'd like it to be good, but if it's not: we still have the original.


The Social Network


Anything from David Fincher ("Seven", "The Game", "Fight Club", "Zodiac", er... "Benjamin Button"? And... well, "Panic Room"... and... Oh..."Alien 3") is worthy of interest, and this seems like a topical erm... topic that he might be able to spin something interesting out of. It's about the creation of Facebook! Hey, come back! It's also got Justin Timberlake in it! Where are you going!? It'll be good! I think.


The Other Guys


Will Ferrell and Marky Mark in a buddy-cop comedy? That's a bingo! Sammy Jackson and The Rock as their super-cop nemeses? Right on! Steve Coogan as some gimpy English version of Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2? Get in! Spicy Eva Mendes as schlubby Will Ferrell's wife? Er... What? Director of Anchorman does ensemble comedy in my personal favourite genre? It's a long shot, but it might just work!


Paranormal Activity 2

This was almost in the "Upcoming Films that fill me with Dread" post (coming soon) and not in a good way. The simplicity of "Paranormal Activity" will become tired if repeated and yet any variation or evolution of content is liable to negate the subtle atmosphere generated in the first film. The dude who made the first one is off doing summat else, so they've drafted in some gimp who made a "Saw" film or summat. It's just gonna be "Blair Witch 2" all over again, innit? Curious about this one because I can't see how they can make it different without making it shit.


My Soul to Take


Wes Craven writing and directing a slasher movie? I'm there. What's that, it's about someone killing people who share his birthday? That sounds a bit mouldy-cock. And it was completed sometime last year and has been sitting on a shelf, allegedly due to Craven and the studio-gimps disagreeing on tone and content (Craven=harsh, studio=fluffy)? Well, whatever it was when Craven shot it, it's unlikely that's what we'll see. Or will we...


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps


I only saw the original Wall Street once upon a time, but two things stuck with me: The scene where Chucky Sheen breaks down as he's guided through his office in handcuffs, and Mickey Douglas being a reet slimey get. Douglas is back, assisted by Shia "nonononononono!" LaBeef, perky up-and-comer Carey Mulligan, Skeletor and the big lad from "Goonies". Gets on this list simply due to the mobile phone gag in the trailer. He's been in prison so long that his phone is obsolete! JUST LIKE HIM! Etc.


This concludes the list of films I am curious about. No doubt there are others which have slipped my mind or escaped my attention, but these are the ones for now. Come back soon for a bilious rant about the upcoming films that fill me with dread and be ready to tell me that I have too much time on my hands and take movies far too seriously.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Upcoming Films that I am Curious About: Part One

Here's some films that are due out this year which have my attention for one reason or another. There are a lot of them, so this is merely Part One of a Double Feature. Part Two Coming Soon.

As some of these films are a long way from release, they don't have official stills or trailers so, in that case, simply read the words and try to use your mental imaging faculties to create an impression of what the film might look like. It's fun!

(All opinions featured in this post are completely unfounded and speculative and liable to be revoked without notice)



Four Lions


This is a comedy about Islamic suicide-bombers, wafting from the brain-oven of Chris Morris. The man behind "Brass Eye", "The Day Today" and "Nathan Barley" has a history of courting controversy whilst making incisive, intelligent and hilarious satire, so this could be the surprise best comedy of the year.


Tangled


CG Disney version of "Rapunzel", featuring animation apparently done in such a way as to look like an oil-painting or summat. The typical "re-envisimakimagiboot" process of feistying up the heroine sounds like a load of cobblers, but the above concept art makes me go "Coo!".


Green Hornet

Fascinating combo of big-budget superhero movie, looney-tune director and slimmed-down former-fat comedy star. Michel Gondry is the addled mind behind Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine and Be Kind Rewind, and Seth Rogen - usually a chunky, hairy loser - attempts a regeneration into square-jawed action hero. Add a chop-socky sidekick and The Jew Hunter as the Bad Guy and I am fully intrigued.


Tron: Legacy


TRON traumatised me as a child. I watched it up until this bit where a massive giant face disintegrated some dude by throwing him at a wall or something. Then I went up to my room and ate a Kit-Kat and had a lie down. I have never re-visited the film, but always felt I should. The trailer for this new one looks interesting, with young and old Dudes, the rapturous Dr Thirteen from House in figure-hugging Nu-Rave get-up, Michael Sheen dressed as David Bowie and of course light-cycles zooming about all over the shop. Will this one terrify me as much as the original? We'll see.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One


You can't stop Harry Potter. Just when you thought it was almost over, they split his final adventure into two seperate films. Remember at the end of the fourth film; when Snake-face Ralph Fiennes came out of a stew or summat and killed Edward Cullen? And everyone was like "Oh, he's back alive now, it's all going to kick off!" and then pretty much nothing happened for the next two films? This one will probably be more of the same: filler. It is lifted from the first section of the book, which consists mainly of Harry, his jailbait mate and wacky Rod wandering around in a forest and listening to the radio. This makes the list because I am interested to see how they can possibly make this watchable, let alone a satisfying film.


Cemetery Junction


Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's feature debut. Before viewing the trailers - as an avid fan of The Office and Extras - this would've made my "childish glee" list, but now I'm not so sure. The film is apparently more of a drama than an out-and-out comedy, but even the "funny" bits in the trailer aren't very funny. I still have high hopes, but haven't been bowled over by anything I've seen so far.


True Grit

Anything by the Coen Brothers gets my attention, but a reunion with The Dude? On a remake of a John Wayne film? Sounds bizarrely brill.


Exit Through the Gift Shop


An obssessive documentarian sets out to make a film about mysterious public-property defacer "Banksy", but Banksy turns the focus back on him. Could be an insightful peek into a world of art which most of us only come across when we are trying to scrub it off a wall, could be pretentious psuedo-edgy culture-wank.


A Nightmare on Elm Street


Another iconic horror remake. Casting Rorschach as Freddy is a pretty shrewd move and the trailer doesn't look terrible but, as with most remakes, the lingering question "WHY?" hangs over the whole proceeding like a cloud of stinky arse-gas.


Splice


Kooky-looking little sci-fi horror with Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody's Beak playing God when they genetically engineer some kind of human/goat-foetus hybrid. Looks suitably creepy and weird, and reminds me of childhood memories of a tv show (called Chimera, I think) where some genetic feakazoid lived in a barn and made friends with a kid or summat. Don't remember much about it, but it creeped me the shit out almost as much as TRON. It's unusual to see an interesting, NEW horror film on the slate, n'all.


Knight and Day


Didn't give a shit about this film, had barely even heard of it, until I watched the above trailer and found it to be amusing and irreverent for the most part. Dinky Tom Cruise smilingly saying "I'm the guy" and then going dark and shouting "Anybody moves and I'll kill myself and then her!" got a surprise laugh from me, and there are a few amusing stunts in there too. Cameron Diaz looks a little shrill and annoying, which is a detractor, but overall this looks like it might be a pleasant surprise.


The Last Airbender


M. Night Shymalan is a good director who hasn't always made good films. This is his first move into epic family adventure territory, and is based on a cartoon series about a kid with alopecia; which I haven't seen. There are people in it called "Benders" which is funny on every concievable level, and apparently they can control the elements. Earth, air, water, fire. So it's like Captain Planet without the heart. And that nice boy from Slumdog gets to be a baddie. Neat!


Predators


Adrien Brody sticks his beak in again, this time fighting against the crab-mouthed monstrosities that only Arnie or... well... Danny Glover can defeat. Looks like a bunch of hardened killers are rounded up by the aliens and turned loose in a jungle for a kind of extra-terrestrial redneck turkey shoot. Robert Rodriguez produces, Morpheus shows up to impart wisdom, Danny Trejo probably throws big knives or summat, and the trailer looks to be trading a little hard on the franchise's former "glories". Could it be as much macho funtimes as Predator? Or as much idiot-brained cock-belch as AVP:Requiem?

STAY TUNED FOR MORE CURIOUS FILMS, AND THE FILMS THAT FILL ME WITH DREAD. COMING SOON

Friday, 9 April 2010

Upcoming Films that Fill Me with Childish Glee

This will be the first in a short series of previews of upcoming movies due out this year. Let's begin with a selection of films that I am genuinely excited to see; a bunch of movies that make me do a girly giggle everytime I think about them.

(All opinions featured in this post are completely unfounded and speculative and liable to be revoked without notice)



Iron Man 2



Didn't you see the first one? It was the most purely fun Superhero movie in ages, maybe ever. RDJ is king of you, but if that's not enough; we have Mickey Rourke doing Russian acting and flailing electro-whippage around, robots smashing the shit out of each other, explosions, a suit-in-a-suitcase, a flame-haired Scarlett Johansson in a skin-tight outfit and Sam Rockwell. And Don Cheadle. And Larry Sanders. And Chris Martin's Mrs being not-as-annoying-as-usual.


Robin Hood



Big Russ appears to be doing his best Sean Bean impression in this film, and it certainly seems to be being promoted as "Gladiator 2: Maximus in the Hood", but Ridley Scott directing a historical epic that is attempting to tell the story of Robin Hood properly? Without American accents? Mark Strong as a villain (as usual)? Max Von Sydow as Richard Harris (apparently)? Keamy from LOST as Little John? Danny Huston as Richard the Lionheart? Cate Friggin Blanchett as Marian? Yes, please.


Scott Pilgrim vs. The World



If you haven't read these comics already, you probably shouldn't. Unless you are a fan of video games, anime, comicbooks, films and other nerdy things. Now when I say "unless you're a fan of", I mean "unless your life revolves around" these things. There is, however, a sweet little romance and some drama-type-stuff for non-nerds and girls, so the appeal may be just broad enough for success. It's directed by Edgar Wright, the director responsible for "Spaced", "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" and looks to be manic, flourescent, fit-inducing fun of the highest calibre.


Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole



Director of 300 and Watchmen dabbles with animation. Y'know, for kids! Basically, it looks like Lord of the Rings WITH OWLS! AUSTRALIAN OWLS! WITH ARMOUR! It sounds loopy, but the trailer got me thinking of things like "Watership Down" and "The Secret of Nimh", which made me regress instantly to my childhood. And what the hell is a Ga'hoole? Whatever it is, I'm glad it's being guarded. By owls.


Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time



This is the guilty pleasure of the list. It just looks like my kind of film. English-accented Donnie Darko bouncing here and there and everywhere, high adventure that's beyond compare, tongue firmly in cheek, solid cast including fledgling-messiah Toby Kebbell (from "Dead Man's Shoes", "Control" and "Rocknrolla"), what could go wrong? Mind you, I did feel almost the same way about "Clash of the Titans", and that's not up to much, from what I've seen.


Toy Story 3



It's Toy Story 3. Come on.


Inception



Movie mega-brain Chris Nolan spits a script from his mind-tank that is apparently actually set in someone's mind-tank. From what little is known about the plot, it's about stealing ideas from inside people's brains or summat. Which looks like an excuse for Nolan to apply all sorts of bizzarro dream-logic to a big-budget action-bonanza. It's got my current favourite acting-face in it, along with Juno, the long-haired kid from "3rd Rock from the Sun", Sir Mickey Caine, the Scarecrow, and more! This is what happens when a cerebral director makes a massive hit superhero movie. He gets a blank cheque to go bonkers. But will it just be a load of self-indulgent toss? Time will tell.


The Losers/The A-Team/The Expendables





I think these are the same film. Or a series or something. They deserve a special mention simply because I am excited to see which one wins out in the "so-bad-it's-good" stakes, or if any of them could actually turn out to be quality. Plus, I'm looking forward to some "Who'd win in a fight?" nerd debates. Losers vs A-Team vs Expendables. The real Clash of the Titans.

Stay tuned for more films what are coming soon and I have heard of. Still to come: "Upcoming Films I am Curious About" and "Upcoming Films that Fill Me with Dread".

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Man Down

The cinema I work at has a projection team consisting of three full-time projectionists and one "Ghost". This doesn't mean that one member of the team is an ectoplasmic entity of some sort that helps us out between chain-rattling and spooky moaning, it's just a needlessly smarmy way of saying "part-timer". He spends most of his shifts as a popcorn jockey downstairs, but makes the trip up to projection when we need him. Ghosts are also sometimes referred to as "Shadows". Both titles which are altogether too cool to give a full idea of the mundanity of the job at hand.

So we're a small group of chaps who usually only see each other for an hour here, a half-hour there during a shift cross-over. This hermetically sealed hermit-lifestyle appeals to some of us - affording us plenty alone time and a safe, mostly soundproof environment in which to climb the walls of our own minds - but not to all of us.

One of us is leaving.

When a member of a three-man projection-team goes AWOL (probably using that term erroneously, there. It's not as if he shot his way out of the building, stole a van and crashed it through a perimeter fence or owt. He just handed his month's notice in.) the remaining two members have a pretty big problem. We can try and get our Ghost bumped up to full time, we can find someone to replace our missing man within the next month, or we are gonna have to start putting in some serious overtime (probably using that term erroneously, n'all, it's not like they actually give us overtime pay or owt). When you're as lazy as I am, the idea of an impending expanded-workload is like the rumble of distant thunder.

But it's not just all about the extra pressure we will have on us in the coming month, the fact of the matter is that I will be saying goodbye to a friend. Someone I have worked with in both an employment and artistic sense. When my friend leaves town, I will have some short films that we made together to remember him by, but the thought that we may never make another is a source of great sorrow to me.

In leaving a dead-end job for a new life and new career, the man is doing what can only be described as the right thing. I suppose you could say I am a little jealous, trapped as I am by the knowledge that my years in projection have only fuelled my anti-social tendencies to the point where I will be pretty much unemployable in any other industry.

I wish him God-Speed (using that term erroneously, because it's not as if I actually believe in God or owt) and leave you with one of the aforementioned short films, a little piece about a particularly unusual friendship.