Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy 10th birthday to 'The Iron Giant'


Over at Aint-It-Cool, the writer who calls himself Mr. Beaks did a fantastic piece for a special 10th Anniversary screening of The Iron Giant that recently took place in L.A. His opening line truly nails what makes this film so special and unique:

Stirring in its simplicity, bold in its depiction of humanity's capacity for violence, ruthless in its ability to make grown men cry, THE IRON GIANT endures because, once upon a time, its visionary director Brad Bird refused to treat his audience like imbeciles.

Y'know, the last time I cried while watching a film was when I saw this one on video six months ago with my wife. She had never seen the film before, and was quite doubtful of its qualities, but she teared up a bit, too. That's a good thing, because I am of the opinion that if a person can watch The Iron Giant and not cry when the Giant says "I am Superman!" then they truly lack a human soul. Good to know I didn't marry a Cylon.

Beaks goes on to share some interesting tidbits gleaned from a Q&A with director Brad Bird that took place before the screening, only to demand that Warner Bros. re-release the film theatrically.

After the way it was treated during it's first go-round in 1999, I don't see that happening, but rather than moan and complain, I took a chance to do something about it myself. That is why I convinced the Carousel Luxury Cinemas (1305 Battleground Ave. in Greensboro, NC) to play a 35mm screening of The Iron Giant at 10 a.m. Saturday, November 7.

Definitely attend this screening if you can, and bring as many of the little ones as you can (they stand a pretty good chance of winning PRIZES if they show up). It's one of my all time favorite movies, and deserves a huge audience next Saturday that it never had in 1999.

Tickets are only $3 each, and you can purchase them here.

Remember that 'Avatar' trailer I wrote about yesterday?

It's finally online, sorta.

Trailer Addict has the online scoop on the international version of the trailer.

See what I mean? This looks like a much more enticing than the last 'Hey look, it's James Cameron making a film with HUGE special effects' trailer we got in September.

I'm so there, dude.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cameron a 'Man of Extremes'

If you haven't read last week's issue of New Yorker, then you should check out Dana Goodyear's wonderful profile of filmmaker James Cameron.

You can tell that Goodyear really got to know Cameron during the many years it has taken him to make his newest film, Avatar (due December 18). She got a fantastic quote by Cameron as well as clips from Steven Speilberg and George Lucas. And it's clear that while it might not help Cameron as a person very much, one of the things which makes him a great filmmaker is the fact that he doesn't waste a lot of time being nice. He has a habit of being terrible to his crew - who refer to him as "Mij" when he's on an angry kick - and even worse to his producers.

Here's a couple of choice quotes from Cameron during his so-called Mij spells:

“Hiring you is like firing two good men”
-To a crew member.

“Do you want Paul Verhoeven to finish this motherfucker?”
-To Arnold Schwarzenegger, an inch away from the actor's face on the set of True Lies.

He is definitely a shouter, but he's also the most skillful director whoever lived on a technical level. The article goes on to portray Cameron's risk addiction. While making these mega-blockbusters like Terminator 2 and Titanic he burns bridges and stokes the ire of critics and detractors, only to save himself at the zero hour by producing films that audiences love.

Will the audiences come through for Cameron again with Avatar? Only time will tell, but I think the likelihood of this happening has increased greatly after the release of the new trailer, which is still not available online in a non-bootleg version. Rather than attempt to lure audiences with the facts that the movie is directed by James Cameron and has some revolutionary special effects, we're starting to get a better idea of story elements and who the main characters are.

In other news, don't forget that during November, The Mixed Tape Film Series will be playing two Cameron films at the Carousel Luxury Cinemas in 35mm, both of which were sequels.

First up, at 7:30 & 10 p.m. Thursday, November 5, we'll be playing Aliens.


Featuring Sigourney Weaver (who also appears in Avatar), here's what co-host Mike has to say about the film:
"In 1986, writer/director James Cameron laid the groundwork for how to properly make a summer blockbuster sequel. Keeping the claustrophobic terror of Alien, but abandoning its survival horror minimalism in favor of space marines and waves of xenomorphs, Cameron fused genres to create this action horror classic. As Bill Paxton says in his career defining meltdown, 'It’s game over, man.'"

Then at 7:30 & 10 p.m. Thursday, November 12, we'll be playing Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

From Mike again:
"Easily one of the best summer blockbuster films ever made, Terminator director James Cameron cleaned up the tech-noir sci-fi of his breakthrough film and crafted an epic that owned the summer of 1991 and stands today as an example of what big loud summer movies can do if handled properly."

I can't wait to watch both of these films with an audience, and you can buy your tickets for these films here and here.

See you at the movies!

[PODCAST] Is Will Smith a liar?


On the final, 2009 Halloween-themed episode of The Movie Show, Joe and Mike relate a truly horrifying weekend at the cinema with reviews of The Vampire’s Assistant and Astro Boy. Also, they uncover why theater owners are mad with Paramount, the details behind Wes Craven’s hopes for redemption, and remake news for one of cinema’s all-time great masterpieces.

This week’s Soundtrack Selections:

“Digital Versicolor” by Glass Candy from Bronson;
“A Nightmare on My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (not?) inspired by A Nightmare on Elm Street;
“Let Her Dance” by Bobby Fuller Four from Fantastic Mr. Fox

Stream it!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bill Murray: 'McG deserves to die.'


During an interview with Times Online to promote Fantastic Mr. Fox, Bill Murray dropped the kind of bomb most celebrities can't say these days because of publicists and star-wranglers.

Writer Kevin Maher asked him about a statement his Charlie's Angels director Joseph McGinty Nichol - or McG - had made wherein the filmmaker claimed the actor headbutted him during a creative dispute on-set.

Murray's response? Epic.

“That’s bulls***! That’s complete crap!” says Murray, flushing slightly yet maintaining composure. “I don’t know why he made that story up. He has a very active imagination.” He pauses. The subject seems closed, but then a minor eruption. “No! He deserves to die,” he says, coldly staring, without breaking deadpan. “He should be pierced with a lance, not headbutted.”

You can read the rest of the story here.

No wonder Murray was replaced by Bernie Mac in Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle.

P.S. Have you seen the new 'Critics Say' trailer for Fantastic Mr. Fox? If not, check it out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

[PODCAST] Like 'Navy Seals' only good.


Why is Jon Favreau not directing The Avengers? Will Warner Bros. recoup the $85 million they spent on Where the Wild Things Are? And can horror movie news get any scarier than the Trilogy of Terror that Mike delivered this week?

Also, Joe and Mike review Where the Wild Things Are, Paranormal Activity, and Law Abiding Citizen.

Stream it!

Monday, October 19, 2009

REVIEW: 'Where the Wild Things Are'


Where The Wild Things Are is not so much a kids’ film as it is a film for adults about being a kid.

The filmmakers state this clearly by opening with a scene wherein young child protagonist Max chases the family dog around the house with a fork. All adults - and dog owners - should be upset if they witnessed a kid doing this in real life. For this reason among others, I’m not too jazzed about the idea of impressionable kids under the age of eight watching this film. On the other hand, as someone who remembers my own childhood, I would be a liar if I said the portrayal of such dangerous and manic behavior in a young person was not accurate.

Director Spike Jonze and his co-writer Dave Eggers take bold chances like this throughout the film, starting with the casting of Max Records as the lead. More natural and plucky than cute or marketable, Records does a fantastic job of portraying the raging id of a child. He pitches a most realistic fit while giving his mother grief for spending time with her boyfriend instead of admiring the lava-proof fort he built in his room via sheets and bedposts. When she tries to calm Max down, he growls, bites her and runs away into the woods nearby. Alone with nothing to keep him warm but a tattered wolf costume, the boy finds a small dinghy boat, and sails to an island inhabited by a small troupe of wild, ten-foot monsters who call themselves “Things.”

Voiced by James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, Forest Whitaker and Chris Cooper, critics have described these monsters as being “too scary,” “depressed” and even “whiny.” At times, all of these statements are true, but more than that, these monsters represent Max’s inner turmoil and childish character flaws that will cause him many problems as an adult if he doesn’t start to wise up by the end of the film. His biggest flaw of all is represented by head Thing, Carol (Gandolfini), who is incredibly selfish as all children can be, and because of his enormous size and strength, is prone to destructive behavior if he feels threatened or ignored. By embodying these flaws in such large creatures, the effects of Max’s real-world behavior is amplified. So much so that he can observe the ramifications of his own behavior and leave the Thigns’ island in the final act with the hope that he is en route to becoming a better person.

On the same note, the film takes a grave misstep by allowing Max to leave the Things – especially Carol – before they achieve the same closure that he does. Perhaps Jonze was simply out of money by this point, but this choice makes the already somber film a little bit sadder than it needed to be. Abandoned, the Things look to Max while howling and on the verge of tears. Sure, they’re probably sad because their new friend must return home, but I was sad as well because they lacked same resolution that Max achieved.

Critics have made a big to-do about how director Jonze and Eggers attempted the impossible when adapting this film from Sendak’s original book. Yes the book was 38 pages with fewer than 350 words, but where Jonze and Eggers earn their kudos is the fact that instead of filling the feature length gap with dirty jokes or pop culture references, their additives consist of unspoken insights into their personal interpretation of Sendak’s brief text. With questions instead of forced answers and bogus sentiment, and many scenes devoted to child’s play instead of screenwriting contrivances and poop-humor, Where the Wild Things Are is a much better adaptation of a short children’s book than the dreadful recent films based on the works of Dr. Suess and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

If it should have been adapted at all, that is.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Favreau ain't directing 'Avengers.'

When The Avengers assemble for the tentpole blockbuster planned for Summer 2012, it looks like they'll be doing so without Jon Favreau -- in a director capacity at least.

Favreau recently told MTV's Movies Blog that while he's on board to produce the film, he won't be available to direct.

See for yourself:

His reason?

"It's going to be hard, because I was so involved in creating the world of Iron Man and Iron Man is very much a tech-based hero, and then with 'Avengers' you're going to be introducing some supernatural aspects because of Thor," he continued. "How you mix the two of those works very well in the comic books, but it's going to take a lot of thoughtfulness to make that all work and not blow the reality that we've created."

In terms of adapting Iron Man from the comic books to the big screen, Favreau's asset was always his thoughtfulness. He wasn't the most visually compelling filmmaker, but he made sure that Iron Man made sense in a live action world, and that the entirety of the first film centered on a solid theme. He also did a lot of groundwork to court the fanboy community and get them revved up for the project. I'm not saying he's the best man for the job of directing The Agengers, but considering the way Marvel Films lowballs their creative talent, of the directors who would make themselves available for this project, who else could do this project any justice?

Maybe Martin Campbell, if the whole Green Lantern movie fizzles out, that is.

Symalan too busy to write or direct his own stories.


While I feel that M. Night Shyamalan's The Village was one of the most unfortunately maligned films of all time, the dude's career has definitely taken a tumble with Lady in the Water (a film Mike enjoyed, btw) and The Happening.

So with that in mind, I am not sure how to react to Empire's story on "The Night Chronicles," a film project wherein different teams of writers and directors take on stories concieved by Shyamalan, who is currently busy turning a Nikelodeon kids' series into a live-action film. There's supposed to be three films in three years, the first of which, Devil, will be directed by Quarantine's Drew and John Erick Dowdle and written by 30 Days of Night scribe Brian Nelson.

Chris Messina will play the lead.


Empire suggests that Shyamalan could be attempting to turn his name into a franchise the way that Hitchcock did with his beloved TV series years ago. Could be true, but definitely not deserved as of late.

I've always felt that Shyamalan is a better director than a writer, even though he has created some compelling characters and decent scripts in the past. But the worst elements of his more recent and very terrible films has always been his stories. Now he's planning to take these stories, which are getting progressively worse with each film, and hand them off to not-so competent directors and writers?

I'm not sure this is going to work.

My advice to Shyamalan is this: Try to direct someone else's story. Stories have been the weakest parts of his more recent films, and who knows, maybe he'll actually get better at telling his own stories again after spending two years planning, lensing, and editing someone else's. Film is a collaborative art, and not everyone must be the great auteur. At least not all the time.

One could argue that that's what he's doing with The Last Airbender, but don't even get me started on that one.

P.S. Messina was pretty awesome as 'Mr. Syrup' in Away We Go.