Sunday, October 29, 2006

"What is your major malfunction, numb-nuts!"

If this clip was faked, I would call it the best short comedic film of the year. Unfortunately, it seems to be quite real.

Watch the clip below to see an 'actor' - a term I use loosely here - audition for Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket.

As if that were not funny enough, it seems as though that same actor has resurfaced some 26 years later to answer for his shitty acting and give the late Kubrick one more time to laugh at him posthumously:

Friday, October 27, 2006

Saw 3 Falls Victim to it's Own Game...

I'm glad I got a job writing for a film publication... it affords me an opprotunity to vent my frustrations over films like Saw 3. Without it, I'd most likely resort to the IMDB message boards, and that's really not where I want to be.

So I'm just gonna come out with it... I was a huge fan of Saw when it first came out... to this day I still think it was a satisfyingly creative thriller with a wonderful twist... hell, I even liked Saw 2 enough to buy the dvd. If the division between Saw fans and nonfans wasn't distinct enough already... it's about to get a whole lot clearer once everybody's gotten a chance to see the third, and hopefully (but not likely) final chapter in the franchise.

The story is difficult to summarize without giving anything away... suffice it to say that the movie opens up in a pretty exciting way and continues along familiar territory for about the first 10 minutes. Then, I don't know what happens. Like every horror film that has come out since the original Saw in 2004, the gore stakes have been risen to new heights, and I doubt that after Saw 3, cinemas will be able to see much worse. (Of course, I thought the same thing after Hostel and The Hills Have Eyes... but Jigsaw proved me all kinds of wrong here.)

The central story of Saw 3 focuses on Jeff- a man who recently suffered an unspeakable tragedy and failed marriage almost simultaneously. Jigsaw targets Jeff because he feels that his new lifestyle- one of depression and hopes of vengence- is a waste. Jeff awakens in a box... literally, just a box... with the infamous Jigsaw brand tape recorder. Jigsaw explains to his new playmate that his game will test his ability to forgive, as he will be set free in a house of horrors that will bring him face-to-face with a number of people responsible for the death of his son.

Here's where I got a little steamed- the central theme of Saw 3 is forgiveness and how that can be the most difficult part of human nature to embrace. Why all of a sudden is Jigsaw, the ultimate representation of vengence (re: Dr. Gordon in Saw) and resentment (re: everybody else) stressing the importance of forgiveness? Why are the creators trying to get audiences to feel sorry for Jigsaw... we don't want to love the guy, we want to be scared of him! He goes from the likes of a Kevin Spacey/John Doe in Seven to DR. PHIL hosting a day time special about how forgiveness is wonderful?! This isn't the Saw I fell in love with.

There were aspects of the film I liked though... it does, in a rather clever way, tie all 3 films together. The audience will have happenings from both Saw and Saw 2 explained to them, but as to how imporantant any of these explanations really are... I don't know. They're kind of just there. I personally enjoyed one segment in which the audience sees how the notorious bathroom scene from the original was plotted and set up.

The acting was a little bit better this time around, but if you know Saw, you know that doesn't say too much. The best in the bunch is Shawnee Smith returning as the faithful sidekick Amanda, who first the first time in the franchise doesn't seem awkward or out of place. Tobin Bell represises his role as the notorious mastermind and his performance is fine- it's the direction his character goes in in this film, that bothered me. As far as everybody else is concerned... well, it's a Saw movie. You don't see it for the actors, I guess.

And again, on the violence. The first two films definetly pushed the envelope as far as gore is concerned and spawned countless imitators who have since just been trying to out do eachother. I, personally, can't stand brutally violent films. The Saw franchise is my exception simply because I feel like it had a decent story behind it... but all the other ones that glorify blood loss simply to draw a crowd- it's sending the horror genre in a disturbingly wrong direction. But I guess enough of us love it enough to keep financing it, so I don't pretend to assume that my opinion matters- but Saw 3 goes much further than it needed too.

Some fans of the franchise will love Saw 3, others, like myself, will be disappointed. Although, I think everybody will agree, based on the film's finale- that this needs to be it. Saw has revamped horror films in a completely unexpected way as set a new precedent in the production of sequels... but there's no reason to ruin this respectable series by butchering it any further. We all know what happend with Halloween, Jason, and Freddy. Leaving Jigsaw alone at this point, may be the only saving grace for this final chapter.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A [slightly] better look at Spiderman 3's Venom...

Ain't it Cool News featured a large photo today detailing the designs of several collectible sculptures from Sam Raimi's Spiderman 3 today. Yes, the sculptures looked nice, but the most interesting figurine is detailed below:

'GRRR, Venom Angry; Venom...SMASH!'

This is the sculpted bust of Venom as played by That 70's Show's Topher Grace. Mind you, this is merely a prototype - the real Venom will be black and won't have large green letters tinting the lower half of his face.

The webbing on Venom's alien costume looks like bulging veins across his face and head. Then again, maybe this is just from a scene where he is really pissed off. I have to say, I kinda like it, even though I do not like the idea of having Venom as a character in these films whatsoever.

For the rest of the sculpture designs, go HERE.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Jigsaw can't die.

This news is a couple of days old but I figured today would be an appropriate day for posting considering the hourly countdown that has begun for Saw 3... Lionsgate has officially greenlit a Saw 4 and a possible Saw 5 pending the success of Saw 3, which I think they're pretty confident it will be. I was one of the ones that was confused as to Tobin Bell's (Jigsaw) return in Saw 3, because I was under the impression that the guy died at the end of 2... or wasn't far from it. Now the premise of Saw 3 finds him "on the brink of death," but oddly Tobin Bell is the only actor signed on for the Saw sequels. So... I don't know. Lionsgate says that with a successful Saw 3 debut, they will immedietyly begin the search for screenwriters to pen the 2 sequels- MEANING, that series creator Leigh Whannel, may have nothing to do with 4 or 5- strange, as he has written each film to date. I didn't particularly fancy the guy's acting in the original Saw, but I'm satisfied with his writing. No reasons were given as to why Leigh Whannel may not be persued... but surely news of this will come out next Monday after we've seen just what Saw 3 can do. The film opens wide this Friday, with Saw 4 due out by Christmas...


Sunday, October 22, 2006

3-D Turns Nightmare into dream.

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If could say nothing else on the transfer of The Nightmare Before Christmas into the world digital 3-D, I would say that it is a perfect fit. On a visual level, this film is just about as perfect as any film could ever hope to be, and the 3-D helped me to realize that.

Why? Well, the 2-D version (especially on home video) left the film looking a little, well, flat. The insane levels of craftsmanship of the moving characters tended to bleed over into the insane levels of craftsmanship of the static backgrounds and foregrounds. But with 3-D, you are able to separate those elements, and with a movie like TNBC, that means there is much more to admire. Jack's lament, Boogie's lair, and the final graveyard scene in particular were just beautiful to watch, and anyone who claims to be a huge fan of this film (and judging by the Hot Topic Mafia in high schools and college campuses across the country, I'd wager that number would be pretty high), needs to make the long trip to wherever they are playing it in 3-D. No excuses.

I remember when I saw Friday The 13th 3-D at the Nevermore some 5 years ago. There were scenes where Jason shot a harpoon gun at the camera, squeezed a man's skull until his eyeball shot out at the audience, etc. - and while those scenes were funny, they pulled me out of the film. In that way, the 3-D can be a major distraction, but since TNBC wasn't made for 3-D, it avoids those lame, 'look, we're in 3-D!' moments. The story here is simply told, and because the 3-D doesn't draw attention to itself (especially now that we do not have to wear those garish, headache-inducing blue and red tinted glasses), I found myself completely inside this vivid creation of cinema.

Let it also be said that if Jim Cameron and George Lucas's wettest dreams come to fruition, and all films are presented in this 'Real 3-D' format, there will be certain elements of modern cinema that shall fall to the wayside. First off, fast, jerky camera movements and edits will have to go. Why? Because with the third dimension, the eye is constantly having to re-align itself to a new field of depth with each shot. A Michael Bay film in 3-D would damn-near be the holocaust unto itself. There are a few swish pans in TNBC where the camera moved too fast for my vision to stay in alignment. Also the fog is going to have to go. While fog can be used to create a creepy atmosphere in traditional 2-D film, the fog that blinds everyone before Jack takes off in his sleigh causes that scene to appear flat and less real than the rest of the film.

Lastly, there were two minor changes that I noticed when I saw the 3-D version yesterday:

1) The credits feature a series of character sketches by Tim Burton. While Burton did not direct the film - as many people still seem to believe - he did influence the visual aspects one-hundred percent.

2) The film is no longer a Touchstone Pictures release. When the film came out in 1993, the Mouse House was antsy because it had a PG-rated cartoon on its hands filled with monsters, the victim of an axe-murderer, and perhaps Satan himself as a protagonist. So instead of releasing the film as a Disney picture like it was originally intended, Buena Vista slapped a Touchstone Pictures logo at the beginning as a way of sort of keeping what they perceived as a controversy bomb at arms length. Well now that the film has been loved and adored by millions of fans across the country; sold tons of toys, backpacks, and t-shirts; and has even been incorporated into the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney's theme parks, the company must no longer feel the separation is necessary. So when the film starts to play, the screen reads 'Walt Disney Pictures Presents'. Perhaps that means Jack Skellington is finally allowed to eat at the same commissary with the likes of Ariel, Iago the parrot, and Pluto. It's about time.

Monday, October 16, 2006

David Benioff Can Write a Movie

In demand stud Hugh Jackman recently confirmed the rolling ball in Hollywood that is the X-Men spinoff WOLVERINE. The project is currently in development with Jackman slated to star and Ken Watanabe as a rumored villian in a David Benioff screenplay. Benioff also penned the scripts for Spike Lee's 25th Hour and that Brad Pitt movie, Troy. When speaking with IESB on his new film The Prestige, (opening Friday,) Jackman praised Benioff's script saying that it was "fantastic." Jackman also commented that a director could be announced in as soon as a few weeks.

Early reviews of Sasha Baron Cohen's (Ali-G) new film BORAT are exceptional. I didn't see that coming... but now I'm intrigued.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Thursday's Show

It's a little late this week but you know you want it.
Click the Movie Ticket for Thursday's show

Weekend Estimates

The Grudge 2, as predicted took over the #1 spot in American cinemas over the weekend with a predicted $22 millioin from previous holder The Departed- which fell to #2. Robin Williams' universally blasted comedy Man of the Year opened at #3 with $12.6 million. Final numbers will probably be out sometime tomorrow.

This Friday, Oct. 20 sees the release of a good handful of movies including Christopher Nolan's highly anticipated The Prestige, Clint Eastwood's next Oscar endeavor, Flags of Our Fathers, and Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy's first try at cinema, Running With Scissors. Also opening is Sophia Coppola's biopic Marie Antoinette.
All of these movies will probably be worth seeing + go see The Departed some more.

Top 10 Estimates Below:

1. The Grudge 2 $22 Million
2. The Departed $18.7 Million ($56.6 Million TOTAL)
3. Man of the Year $12.6 Million
4. Open Season $11 Million ($59.2 Million TOTAL)
5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning $7.75 Million ($30.5 Million TOTAL)
6. The Marine $7 Million
7. The Guardian $5.85 Million ($41.1 Million TOTAL)
8. Employee of the Month $5.6 Million ($19.9 Million TOTAL)
9. One Night with the King $4.33 Million
10. Jackass Number Two $3.33 Million ($68.4 Million TOTAL)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

RE: Variety Pack... Official ZODIAC one sheet

This was pretty coincidental considering the post I put up last night... but today Paramount released the print for the first official one-sheet from David Fincher's much anticipated Zodiac... it's pretty much the same image as in the post below but with actor's names and a killer tagline, in my opinion: "There's more than one way to lose your life to a killer." How enticing! And I also think the combination of Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downy Jr, and David Fincher is gonna make for one stellar film. Dig it below:

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Variety Pack... Horror Special...

Some interesting slices of news I found regarding some upcoming horror releases... indulge...

First of all... I just thought this was cool. I'm pretty stoked for David Fincher's upcoming thriller ZODIAC, scheduled for release January 19th, 2007. I was depressed when the rumors of a trailer being attached to The Departed were untrue until The Departed was over and I felt all zen-like. But none the less, here's a teaser poster which I think is an interesting shot considering it's a film about a serial killer... it leaves a lot to the imaginiation but successfully develops some intrigue.

And then last night at The Scream Awards an official trailer for the upcoming Quentin Tarintino/Robert Rodriguez collaboration (aka EGO-showcase) Grindhouse was premiered. (Not to send any mixed signals... I like Rodriguez a lot and I think Tarantino is only slightly over rated- but the idea behind this "highly anticipated" horror film seems pretty far fetched and unneccesary, to me. Nonetheless, the trailer looks sure to appease fans of at least Rodriguez, (I don't think there was any footage of Tarantino's contribution.) Rodriguez directed the hour long segment Planet Terror, while Tarantino's segment is entitled Death Proof... the two films are connected with a series of fake horror trailers. Grindhouse is due out sometime next year.

Next we have an interesting tidbit for fans of the Saw franchise. As fans, and nonfans alike all probably know the third installment opens wide October 27th. Promotional heads over at Lionsgate brainstormed the brilliant idea of making a limited edition poster to sell on their website for $20. The image is that of actor Tobin Bell (the Jigsaw killer) cloaked in a bright red hood which was colored using his very own blood. Eerie? Perhaps. Appropriate? Sure... Well intentioned? ABSOLUTELY... all proceeds from the sale of these posters go to the American Red Cross.

So to sum up... it's a creepy idea, but you gotta admire their angle.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

RE: It's about frickin' time!

First there was a comic, then a video game, and now this:

In other Movie Show news, I have been hard at work arranging several interviews that I am sure many of you will enjoy. More on that later - SO STAY TUNED!

Scorsese owns your soul...

The final numbers are in and thankfully for Joe Scott, The Departed opened at #1. (If you don't know why I'm referencing to dear Joe, please listen to Thursday's broadcast a few scrolls down, and towards the end you'll hear of a certain promise Joe made to listeners in the depressing event that The Departed did not open at #1.)

Not only did Scorsese open at the top spot... his film raked in a career best for the veteran actor... an impressive 26.9 million dollars. (Impressive especially considering the R-rating.) But considering the cast, the marketing, and the movie itself, how could such a glorious first weekend gross not occur? Scorsese's previous best opening weekend happened way back in 1991 when his remake of the film Cape Fear opened with 10. 3 million.

The other crap films opening this weekend included The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning and Employee of the Month.

Employee opened with a respectible (aka WAY TOO HIGH) 11.4 million in the #4 position and our dear friend Leatherface gave us the most profitible film of the weekend (when considering costs to make) with 18.5 million in the #2 spot. If either of these films fell off the charts after these disappointingly, but not surprisingly, high draws, I personally would consider it a miracle.

With The Grudge 2 opening wide this Friday, I'm not anticipating that The Departed will remain #1, but I will until the day I die, plead that it SHOULD.

Full box-office tallies listed below:

1. The Departed $26.9 Million
2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning $18.5 Milliioin
3. Open Season $15.6 Million
4. Employee of the Month $11.4 Million
5. The Guardian $9.57 Million
6. Jackass Number Two $6.52 Million
7. School For Scoundrels $3.43 Millioin
8. Fearless $2.29 Million
9. Gridiron Gang $2.24 Millioin
10. The Illusionist $1.89 Million

A Glimpse of the Future... Unlimited DVD's at your local Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.

Interesting tidbit of info I came across on the IMDB today...

A technology may be in development that would provide costumers in retail stores the same variety and selection of DVD's that would be available to online shoppers courtesy of Sonic Solutions and Macrovision. The premise is that retail stores will be able to download movies for customers in the case that it's unavailable on the shelf. Downloads would come complete with the feature the length film, all the joyful DVD extras, and a cover/booklet so that you get the appearence of a studio packaged product. Apparently some 75% of studio's DVD selections are not in demand so this would save them the trouble of having to distribute anything that they are uncertain would sell. I kind of figured that whole idea of downloading movies on an ipod would've solved that... but who knows. There's been so much speculation as to the future of film distribution lately... I say every one just needs to keep going to theatres. All that talk about future films all being released straight to DVD, Pay-Per-View, or the internet all seems pretty apocolyptic to me. Save the cinemas, people.

Nolan Confirms Two-Face for The Dark Knight

Just a little quickie... has posted a blurb stating that mastermind director Christopher Nolan (Memento, the upcoming The Prestige) has confirmed the role of Harvey Dent/Two-Face as a villian in his 2008 follow up to Batman Begins. Rumored actors have included Liev Schriber, Ryan Phillippe, Jake Gyllenhall, and Guy Pearce. However, has said that every one but Ryan Phillippe is out for one reason or another, but no one at Phillippe's camp has confirmed anything. Since Begins came out I, personally, had a vision of Peter Sarsgaard doing some kind of villian work in the follow-up film and I don't know why... but as a rising talent I assumed he'd be in the running for the Joker, but no. They gave it to Heath. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't intrigued though... I just know Sarsgaard would've killed it. Stay tuned for any casting news and such. The Dark Knight is tentatively scheduled for release in summer 2008.

The Faithful Departed

Being a film student in the 21st century, my knowledge of Martin Scorsese is mostly limited to that of his cinematic influence during my parent’s movie-going generation. Such films as Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and Raging Bull- all now considered “classics” are films that I would come to study, but never truly experience due to the whirlwind of imitators that these films spawned for my generation of film lovers. Scorsese’s latest crime drama, The Departed, finally provides our generation of aspiring filmmakers with a masterpiece for our followers to study and dissect.

Taking place in modern day Boston, the film tells the story of how loyalty and deception almost always lead to murder. Undercover idealist Billy Costigan is immersed in the world of Ireland-based organized crime. Costigan is portrayed by current Scorsese favorite Leonardo DiCaprio in what could very well be the best you’ve ever seen him. (If you’re like me, you may have always respected DiCaprio but may not have run out to see his films on opening day… after The Departed, I will run.) The Irish mafia is led by ruthless gangster Frank Costello, notorious for his brutalized murders and nonexistent sense of remorse. Jack Nicholson takes the role of Costello and makes it into arguably the most memorable performance of the year and a career best for the veteran actor. While Costigan is running around commiting felonies at the side of Costello’s second hands- Costello has one of his own planted in a high ranking position with the Boston police department to serve as a heads up for all police knowledge concerning Costello’s dealings. The charming Colin Sullivan is played with an unsettling ease by Matt Damon in one of his few roles as a villain. (See also: The Talented Mr. Ripley.)

Rounding out the cast is a number of assisting police officers- Mark Wahlberg in a scene stealing role as a sergeant assisting Martin Sheen’s Police Captain, and Alec Baldwin heading up Sullivan’s investigation division. The only female role in the movie was handed to new comer Vera Farmiga, who handled the complicated role with an elegance absent in many accomplished actresses.

The first half of the film had the potential to bore audiences out of caring but thanks to Scorsese’s familiarity with the genre, he knew exactly how to hold attention. Providing just enough violence and tension to get us by, combined with the kind comic relief that you feel guilty about laughing at- (but at the same time, pretty clever in your ability to find the irony of it all,) a mainstream audience should be more than willing to take the time to learn about these characters before the bloodshed and throat lumping hits full force. The film’s climax comes abruptly and with more tension than you may be prepared to handle... and delivers pretty fully on the bloodshed. Once each respective “rat” comes razor close to revealing the other, Scorsese raises his ability to create engaging tension to new heights. It’s a film I respected too much as an art form to yell anything at the screen, but god knows I wanted to. One scene in particular in which Costigan follows a suspecting Sullivan through the dark streets of Boston in an effort to see his face continues just long enough for the audience to start chewing on their hair and leaves them gagging on it. Most of Nicholson’s screen time, including the exposition, had the same effect- I found myself at points of ceased breathing just watching the guy… but I was eagerly anticipating such an effect.

I didn’t approach The Departed as a film that would be involving or thought provoking… rather, just a bloody gangster movie with that typical profanely scary Scorsese dialogue that has all the audience talking in badass tongues for at least a few days after seeing the film. So when I saw the movie on opening day I was surprised to find myself both involved in the story and having provoked thoughts following the conclusion. To me, that’s when you know you’ve seen a great film: when the message is simply up for grabs to anyone who reaches for it that you could wrap your head around it for the rest of your waking life and still not really know what the definitive interpretation is. Apart from stellar direction, writing, and acting, this is where The Departed excels.

Both the tagline and the opening monologue of the film offer the idea that when you’re facing a loaded gun, what difference does it make whether you’re a cop or criminal? The more obvious answer maybe that there is no difference… we’re all doomed to die and it doesn’t matter if we fight the good fight, or stand along side the murdering Irish. But I stand along side Mr. Scorsese in the challenge that you explore the film’s many other interpretations of said differences or that you just allow him to reintroduce the premiere intentions of movie-going in what is (so far and probably will be) the best film of 2006… and maybe even of a few years past.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Science of Sleep and other dreams...

About three-quarters of the way into any film with a romantic subplot the hero and the object of his affection have a falling out. Maybe a lie the hero told has come out into the open. Maybe some secret has been revealed. Maybe there has been a misunderstanding of some sort. Ultimately, conflict is introduced to the relationship. However, the hero decides that he will not give up. He goes to great lengths to prove how much he cares for his lover. Maybe he barges in on her Divorced Women’s Support Group and says, “I am not letting you get rid of me.” Or maybe he storms into her workplace in full military regalia and literally carries her off to a life of domesticity. Whatever the actual circumstances, the two are reunited and presumably live happily ever after.

This is where it gets dangerous. Those two or three dusty synapses in your brain start firing and before you know it you’re standing beneath the window of your high-school crush holding up a giant boom-box blaring Peter Gabriel and when the cops show up you try delivering your big passionate speech to them but they don’t care that you and the girl in the window rode the same bus in the eighth grade and before you know it you’re violating the restraining order by breaking into her apartment because no one, not even the woman you love, understands just how much the two of you are meant for each other and if you can just prove to her how much you love her and how you would do anything for her, anything at all, even how you would kill for her if she asked, if she only understood how much you want, if she only understood how much you desperately need her to ask you to kill for her then everything would be okay.

But it never is okay because people who do things like that are crazy and in the real world crazy people don’t get married they get committed. That distressing fact of life is the primary conflict of Michel Gondry’s Science of Sleep. Gondry has crafted a film whose protagonist Stephane, played superbly with bipolar abandon by Gael Garcia Bernal, is a Peter Panesque manchild suffering from abandonment issues who wants desperately to be in love but who has suffered ‘since childhood’ with the inability to differentiate between dream and reality. When he finally settles on his new next-door neighbor Stephanie as the object of his infatuation he begins the impossible task of making his dreams into reality.

The similar names of the two lovers are no coincidence. Like the Petrarchan lover of long ago, Stephane is infatuated less with Stephanie than with himself and the idea of being in love. His is an egocentric affection for his own role as a lover and Gondry doesn’t shy away from presenting Stephane as selfish in his desires. However, in framing the film through Stephane’s perceptions, Gondry succeeds in complicating this selfish, petty, delusional character with intense beauty. The movies Stephane creates in his mind are the dreams of a child; manic nightmare and fantasy scenes stripped of all pretension and reduced completely to the level of the basic human desires for security and love. Similarly, whether as cause or as result of his inability to distinguish between dream and reality, Stephane is stripped of pretension and animated exclusively by his desires for security and love. Essentially Stephane is a child with all the innocence and selfishness of any child.

In most films the symptoms of this kind of character’s disconnection with reality are simply the minor peccadilloes that make up a quirky character. These heroes, though they could never flourish in the world outside the theatre, are granted happy endings in film and we leave the theaters feeling justified in our own personal egocentricities. However, Gondry places Stephane in the real world where being too quirky is a developmental disorder and refusing to grow up carries very severe negative social consequences. The Science of Sleep includes these negative consequences but still asserts that there is a kind of beautiful madness in refusing to grow up.

Thursday's Show

In case you missed it here is last night's show for your listening pleasure

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