Thursday, 31 March 2011

Want to make some money in films? Don't spend any! The Microbudget trend

I would not like to be the head of a film studio these days. With ever inflating budgets and ever rising marketing costs, bigger risks are being taken, while frequentation is dwindling. And while there are bigger revenues sources these days, with the 3D surcharge, dvd, blu-ray rentals etc..., I wonder if we might see the repeat of a studio destroying box office flop. I am actually predicting Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds is going to be a massive flop this year, and Captain America will disappoint. Lack of buzz coupled with superhero fatigue from the audience and cooly received trailers...

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Cannes Calling: Midnight in Paris

Owen Wilson & Marion Cotillard

The Cannes Film Festival is only a month and a half away yet the full line up will only be announced at the end of April as usual. While speculations is always rife at that time of the year, a couple of films have already been confirmed: The tree of life by Terrence Malick (more on this on a future post) and the new Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris, which will open the festival.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Jennifer Garner as Miss Marple! (Erm?!)

I'm old spinster Miss Marple, honest I am!
One piece of news got the whole film blogosphere scratching their head today before bursting out in laughters of disbelief. Jennifer Garner is to take on the iconic role of... Miss Marple! What's next, Vin Diesel as Hercule Poirot? As we speak, Agatha Christie is rolling, no, spinning in her grave faster than Linda Blair's head in The exorcist (and most probably green projectile vomiting too).

Monday, 28 March 2011

Scandinavian frights: The Troll Hunter

The Troll hunter

I am beginning to wonder if Scandinavia is not about to become the Asia of the 2010's when it comes to horrors. Just as the world was becoming tired of shadowy Japanese female ghosts with long hair walking backwards, a onslaught of horrors from Scandinavia is putting it firmly on the map for fans.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Jim Carrey in... Black Swan!

What is it that makes a film so iconic that tv shows such as SNL and spoof movies (such as Naked gun, Scary movies, down to the most awful recent examples such as Epic movie) can lampoon a scene, safe in the knowledge that it will be instantly recognisable by their audience, even by those who have not seen the original film. It is not always the box office success as such (Would somebody attempt it with, I don't know, Dear John or Valentine day, two of 2010 rather big success? Absolutely not, nobody would get it!)

Child's play reboot: please don't!

One for the "What have we done to deserve this" category. One of the very last 80's/90's horror franchises that has not been remade yet, Child's play IS being remade, or rebooted. We are still missing Critters. And the Ghoulies. And Puppermaster (will we sink so low! Not the Puppetmaster and it's dozen sequels!) Yes Universal has now announced that it is working on a reboot of the possessed killer doll movies.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Treevenge: The Christmas Chainsaw Massacre

With "Hobo with a shotgun" having just been screened at South by Southwest to great reviews (see my posting about SWSX), I have come across this earlier, short film by Hobo's director Jason Eisener, Treevenge. Jason had originally made a short version of Hobo with a shotgun for a grindhouse fake trailer competion and won. So he made this longer, 16mn short film, Treevenge, to drum up some interest from producers and the audience alike for a feature film. Treevenge shows what happens when Christmas trees decide that enough is enough and take revenge on humans after years of violence and humiliation.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Asian Film Awards 2011: better than the Oscars?

The 5th Asian Film Awards ceremony took place on 21st of March in Hong Kong, and did not receive an iota of media coverage in the West compared to the Oscars, which is a real shame, as the list of nominations basically reads like a list of best films from the previous year, not just Asian, but of any cinema! Indeed, they put the lacklustre list of this year's Oscar best films nominees to shame.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Wes Craven disowns Scream 4?

While it is not all that unusual for directors to badmouth their previous effort (ie Michael Bay current and tiresome routine in every single film mag, dissing Transformers 2, while trying to plug the threequel, yawn), it is not often than a director displays a distinct and very public lack of enthusiasm for a film that has not come out yet, unless something has gone really wrong. Yet this is what is happening with Wes Craven at the moment, just about three weeks before the release of Scream 4 (how do a call a third sequel, a Quadruquel? A Fourquel?)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

First Israeli Horror film ever! Rabies

Very intriguing news, Israeli cinema has produced its first horror film called Rabies, which has just been shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. It should not come as a surprise however, as the horror genre has always been a reflection of the troubled times and fears of society.

Friday, 18 March 2011

American Pie: The Last Slice

It has just been announced that the whole cast of the original American pie has already signed on or is negociating for another (and final?) slice, tentatively called An American reunion. Given the career status of Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, Seann William Scott and others, it probably made a lot of sense for them to come back. The original spawned two disappointing sequels in cinemas, followed by a serie of godawful, straight to dvd, follow ups.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Megan Fox sinking her teeth into Judd Apatow's new project

Some movie news truly belong to the WTF category: Megan Fox joining Judd Apatow's untitled new comedy. This is the kind of association that sounds as likely Adam Sandley teaming up with Bela Tarr for a new "comedy".

Wallpaper*: The Lady from Shanghai meets 60's designer mutants

Is it not interesting how sometimes all it takes to get you interested in a film is a picture, just one picture, like this one above from the upcoming X Men First Class by Matthew Vaughan.

I have already discussed the first trailer which is fairly exciting although not showing that much right now (and a good thing that is, pet hate is trailers that do show just about everything that is cool in a film) but this picture above is just fantastic, just look at it.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Films to watch on a plane when you are scared of flying

When you are a nervous flyer like myself, the prospect of a long-haul flight is as appealing as sitting through that Faye Dunaway/Pauly Shore elusive comedy, Honk if you're horny, in a loop. And once inside it is as enjoyable as lying in a coffin. Filled with snakes. For 10 hours. (Or if you're Samuel L. Jackson: motherf@$ing snakes on a motherf@$ing coffin).

Monday, 14 March 2011

Tron lives! The next day, the animated serie, and TR3N

When Tron Legacy was announced a couple of years ago, it was clear that Disney studios saw it as a potential franchise, which is a little surprising considering it was the sequel to a 80's flop few remembered, even though it had gained a cult status. There was talk of a trilogy even. 

However while Tron legacy performed better than the original, it was not quite the blockbuster the studios might have hoped for, with box office receipts of about $170m in the US, a good result but not quite up there with the $300m films must reach to gain the true status of blockbusters these days. So I was concerned there was not going to be any follow up to the Tron universe.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Dharma guns: Experimental French punk cinema is not dead!

FJ Ossang new film, Dharma Guns, that was presented at the Venice Film Festival last september, is out in France this week. The name of the director, FJ Ossang, probably does not mean much to most French people, let alone foreigners. Yet this poet/director is well worth discovering for those fans of experimental cinema.

Super 8 trailer is, well, super!

I had not been paying much attention to J.J. Abrams new directing effort, Super 8. so far. First of all I am beginning to find too clever viral marketing campaigns a little tiresome (the kind where you have to find myriad of clues on some obscure website to take you to another site where you can catch a glimpse of something, give me a break! It was smart the first time!)

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Conan the Barbarian reboot in 3D : teaser revealed

Following my previous post about the Cube reboot in 3D, now come some news of the Conan reboot in 3D. Have we really hit rock bottom in terms of new ideas in Hollywood? I had actually lost track of this project, which had some stage was supposed to be animated only to be turned into live action after all.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Cube reboot in 3D: Rubik Cube?!

Now that every single horror movies of the 70's and 80's have been remade/rebooted, it was inevitable that studios would tackle 90's horrors, despite this decade having had the worse offerings in the genre. Indeed there was a big gap from the early 90's until the horror revival of Scream in 1996, where bar a couple of Halloween sequels, nobody was making any horror movies. So next on line to get the rebook treatment is Cube, a 1997 micro budget budget, high concept sci-fi/horror that earned a certain cult status at the time.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Ninja Assassin tackles BP oil spill!

Actually, I need to rephrase this: Ninja Assassin writer Matthew Sand is tackling BP oil spill script, which is closer to the truth, if a lot less fun. Not the most promising start, but then considering films are being made about a social network or board games these days (upcoming Monopoly film, why, WHY?)

Threat to the space-time continuum alert: Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand teaming up for "comedy"

While we can reasonably expect that the law of physics will hold a bit longer, some events threaten their very fundations: the pairing of Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand for example, for a film called My mother's curse, where they will play an inventor and his mom going on a road trip. This is comedy pairing heaven... in the magnitude of J-Lo and Jane Fonda in Monster in law!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Bonkers sounding new South Korean comedy - Romantic debtors

I do not need to go on about how much I love South Korean cinema at the moment, you can read my previous post on the subject. Even more than its visual excellence, it's the endless stream of ideas and incredible variety of subject that blows me away

Having had the chance to attend the Q&A of South Korean director Jo Sung-Hee at the London Film Festival last year, fresh out of graduating of his film course and showing his end of term project/first film End of animal (about God incarnated as a cheeky school boy heralding the end of times with the smoke monster from Lost, no less), he explained how much cinema meant to his country at the moment, and how the government actively invests in his home grown talents, (perhaps should we send British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, aka Edward Scissorhand, on a fact finding mission over there?)

Guillermo Del Toro: All is forgiven

Following my previous posting about the collapse of At the mountains of madness, Guillermo Dell Toro has given his side of the story in an interview for I had to admit I almost blamed him yesterday when I found out he had dropped out, given how exciting I was about this film. But having read this interview, it all comes down to the studios not having the guts to follow up on the project, despite month of work by the director.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Tom Cruise climbing up and down the Mountains of Madness

It has been a bit of an emotional rollorcoaster today for those of us fans of Guillermo Del Toro and H.P. Lovecraft. Having wasted 2 years working on The hobbit only to give up on the project because of increasing delays in production, the Mexican director was said to have his eyes set on a 3D adaptation of Lovecraft's masterpiece, At the mountains of madness, with the names of Tom Cruise and James McAvoy being tossed around, and James Cameron producing.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Rendez Vous with French Cinema 2011

The Rendez Vous with French Cinema is back again this year, already in its 16th edition, and taking its selection of French films to New York, London and Edinburgh. This is an initiative by Unifrance, a French organisation dedicated to showcasing and celebrating the best of contemporary French cinema around the world.

What I really like about those Rendez Vous is that they deliberately focus on a small selection of hand picked films rather than having a more generic French Film festival, and more importantly, send over directors and actors to take parts in informal q&a and meet their audience.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Logan's Run remake with Ryan Gosling: Red and green satin jumpsuits revival?

The long gestated Logan's run remake is finally back on track (Bryan Singer was once rumoured to be in the running), with fantastically bonkers Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, Valhalla Rising) at the helm and no less than current indie poster boy Ryan Gosling in the lead part.

If you have not seen it, the premise was of a world where the remaining human population lived under a dome, free from doing any work of any kind, living a life of leisure with robots doing all the labour.

Essential Killing Q&A with Jerzy Skolimowski in London

I have only just caught the trailer for Essential Killing by Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski, starring maverick artist/director/self publicist/actor Vincent Gallo, that I meant to watch, and missed, at the London Film Festival last year. And good news, it is finally being released in the U.K. on 1st of April. (no US release date as yet) And Curzon Renoir in London is holding a preview screening followed by a q&a with the director on 24th March (as part of the Kinoteka Polish Film Festival)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Archipelago Review

Synopsis: Underlying tensions within a family simmer during a break in the Isles of Scilly. The son is about to embark on a gap year doing humanitarian work in Africa. The daughter cannot repress her controlling and angry strain. And the absence of their father casts a shadow that threaten to bring them all to boiling point.

Review: Much has been said in the press about the fact that this film is about a social class that is completely under represented in the British cinema, the upper middle class. (It is true that you could be forgiven to think that British cinema of late is all about gritty social realism or period dramas involving the Royal family). As a result, I actually hesitated seeing this, as I expected some sort of self-conscious smugfest.

Pina: Street Tanz 3D

I saw the trailer for Pina for the first time today, the documentary by Wim Wenders about the late German choreographer/dancer Pina Bausch, and it looks absolutely fantastic. Pina sadly passed away just as pre-production had begun on the film, but the director decided to carry on with the project, which now serves as a tribute to her. 

The trailer was in 2D, and I have to admit I am not very familiar with her work, apart from what I saw in the Pedro Almodovar movie, Talk to her. Still, it looks absolutely fantastic and, to me, it seems like an ingenious use of 3D, that shows that it is not all a gimmick that has things flying at you. I can just imagine how much more of an intense viewing experience

Friday, 4 March 2011

The not so super Super trailer

From the director of 80's shlocker tribute Slither,  James Gunn, comes a story of an everyday guy who transforms himself into a superhero, hellbent on fighting crime, high on enthusiasm but low on actual skills...

Sounds familiar? Well it should because it is basically the premise of Kick Ass, except that this is also the premise of Super and with the first trailer released, this hardly looks promising. The first mistake is having woefully unfunny "comic" Rainn Wilson starring in it. You may (or may not) have seen him in the US version of The office, Juno and My super ex girl friend, and he is like a black hole that sucks out all that's funny in the world of comedy.

And then having the "hero" be some 40 something is another mistake.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Attack the block First Trailer: Hoodies vs Aliens

I have already mentioned the lo-fi and widely anticipated British horror/comedy Attack the block (by former radio presenter by Joe Cornish) in an earlier post about Austin SWSX midnight fests.

Now a first trailer has finally been released, some lucky few critics have already seen it, prior to its UK May release, and early reports suggest that we might have a cult classic in our hands, we're talking Shaun of the dead level cult classic here.

The trailer looks brilliant, it seems that the film has found the right blend of horror and laughs.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Channing Tatum as Peter Pan?! Erm

The sort of news that makes you giggle until you realise that they are real: Channing Tatum is working on a new version of Peter Pan?! Now I am not going to jump on the bandwagon, I actually believe Channing Tatum to be a fine actor, even if he missed the mark a little in G.I. Joe, and his mixture of masculinity and softness worked really well on the Street dance films. But as Peter Pan?

This is part of a growing trend of fairy tales adaptation, following the stratospheric success of Alice in wonderland last year. In the works, 2 adaptations of Snow White (including one with Julia Roberts playing the evil queen), Sleeping beauty with Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, a Wizard of Oz prequel with James Franco and Mila Kunis, and Jack the giant killer by Bryan Singer, among others. I suppose with the final chapter of Harry Potter, there is a void of family film franchises that needs to be filled.

But still, I just cannot imagine Channing Tatum as Peter Pan? Will he be a grown up version? (But then isn't Peter Pan supposed to be young forever?) Will he wear green tights? Will he break into a street dance routine, in 3D? There is one thing we can be certain. No matter what... he cannot be worse than Robin Williams in Hook, whose performance of cosmically bad proportion managed to create a singularity in the space/time continuum.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival line up: Zombie porn and gigolas

The BFI has just released their program for this year's London Lesbian & Gay film festival which will take place from the 31st of March till 6th of Aril. Just like every other art institutions in the U.K., the BFI has had to suffer significant budget cuts. As a result, the LLGFF has been reduced to just a week. But it might not be such a night thing, and may even benefit from a shorter selection. 

I felt that the programmers have had to include some real duds over the years to, as there is just not enough quality gay films made every year to fill all of it slots within a fortnight. And 90% of them were usually autobiographic stories about coming out, touching, but done to death! Or microbudget, amateur rubbish that would never have been included in any festival were they not include two men kissing.

If anything, I find that many of the best gay films have been made by straight directors, possibly they might have been a little more objective about their subject. I'm thinking Prick up your ears by Stephen Frears, Maurice by James Ivory, Brokeback mountain by Ang Lee...

I have picked a handful which I recommend out of this year's line up:

Kaboom by Gregg Araki, with Thomas Dekker, Juno Temple, Roxanne Mesquida

I've already seen it at the London Film Fest last year and I absolutely loved it. While the subject matter, a crazy day in the fucked up life of a horned up student, made it sound like it was retreating to Nowhere territory, he still managed to make it seem entirely new and fresh. With a keen eye for visuals and eye candy, and his sharp script with killer one liners, this is a hedonistic and humorous celebration of sex and youth, that never takes itself seriously. It felt like Skins, but written by somebody with actual talent, and filmed by Roy Lichtenstein like some kind of cinematic pop object.

Gigola by Laure Charpentier, with Lou Doillon, Marisa Paredes, Marisa Berenson...

Intriguing, first of all I have learned a new word today, gigola! This story of a slightly masculine toy girl and her sugar mummies in 60's Paris oozes style, sophistication and sex. Even more intriguing is the presence in the casting of 70's arthouse favourite Marisa Berenson, and especially Pedro Almodovar mid 90's muses, the too rare Rossy de Palma and especially Marisa Paredes!

L.A. Zombie by Bruce LaBruce, with Francois Sagat

Fairy godmother of the queer punk cinema movement, Bruce LaBruce had perfected his art of blending gay porn and politics in his masterpiece The raspberry reich. The story of a revolutionary terrorist queer group led by formidable lesbian Gudrun, this film ranks among my favourite films of all times. However he took a sharp turn with his next film, Otto or up with dead people, about a twenty something gay zombie stumbling on porn shoots, which I did not see. I am all for sex and politics, I'm not sure gore and sex mix all that well. Well he is following that path further with L.A. Zombie, the experimental and silent tale of a gay zombie (Francois Sagat) who comes out of the ocean to fuck male cadavers back to life. I love the Dawn of the dead inspired poster, the trailer is shit, but I'll give it a chance.

L'homme au bain by Christophe Honore

Francois Sagat again, playing an object of desire in this meditative tale of lust and melancholy. Christophe Honore was responsible for the fantastic Jules et Jim polysexual update Les Chansons d'amour with French arthouse poster boy Louis Garrel, so I won't be missing this.

Les Amours imaginaires (Heartbeat) by Xavier Dolan

Proving that he is no one hit wonder, precocious Canadian director Xavier Dolan offers a well worn tale of a love triangle, and add his impeccable esthetic tastes and class to the mix. I saw this at the London Film Fest last year and I adored it. I still cannot believe how incredibly talented Xavier Dolan is at a mere 21, with a visual style that is like Wong Kar Wai meets Pedro Almodovar. A must see.

Unhappy Birthday by Mark Harriott & Mike Matthews

The great joy of film festivals is to see films before everybody else, and before they have been swallowed by a media frenzy. Little is know about this low budget British effort, except that the story of a couple stuck on a island with sinister traditions, makes me think of The wicker man with a queer twist.

I shall be reporting next month! Book at