I think it's safe to say I'm a fan of John Carpenter and his films.
If you're someone who has seen all of his movies already and you crave something new, "The Ward" just arrived on VOD and is available for rental from Netflix as of yesterday. I reviewed the film when I saw it at last year's Toronto Film Festival, which is the same place where I recorded a special podcast with Scott Weinberg where we talked about all of Carpenter's films.
Tonight, though, I wish I was in Austin for Mondo's "They Live" screening. I love that film. I think it's one of John's more underrated movies overall, and it's one of the best satires of the '80s. And from the '80s. Both. The film works just as the surface story about a guy who discovers a conspiracy that involves the whole world, but what really makes it a better-than-average film by John is the way the subtext also works so well. If there's anything I'm not crazy about, it's the hyper-abrupt ending of the film. Even so, it's a movie that actually seems better in hindsight, smarter and more prescient with each passing year.
I think it's safe to say I'm a fan of John Carpenter and his films.
When I saw "Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story" at the AFI Fest, it was screened at the Arclight, and I was sitting in the front row. As a result, when Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan stepped up to do a Q&A afterwards, it felt pretty much like a private show. And the chemistry they have in that movie is something that I found electrifying. The whole film, by Michael Winterbottom, is entertaining and daring and inventive and silly, sometimes all in one move, and the Brydon/Coogan verbal sparring is one part of why that movie is great. Not all of it, but certainly a component of why it made my ten best of the year list that year.
With "The Trip," a new Winterbottom movie that is a feature-length version of the BBC series, it's all Brydon and Coogan and that's the point. It's "My Dinner With Andre" with two performers locked in a mad passive-aggressive competition for laughs while on a restaurant-based road trip. It's often riotously funny, and it feels like the larger "joke" about the relationship between Coogan and Brydon is carefully crafted and perceptive. This is the Coogan I like most, the loutish show business version with occasional flashes of self-awareness, and Brydon is a brilliant foil for him. Brydon can provoke Coogan as a performer, get a real rise out of him, and that's what "The Trip" is really all about… Rob Brydon driving Steve Coogan absolutely mad.
Damon Lindelof, you are no longer the Padawan. Obviously, you've now graduated to full-blown Mystery Box Jedi.
Who knows what "1952" is? Well, Disney executives know, but that's it. Other than them, Damon Lindelof isn't telling anyone what to expect from what is described as "an original sci-fi family adventure film."
Fine. I don't need to know a logline to know I'm interested. Lindelof has been a busy, busy man since "Lost" went off the air a year ago, and whatever he's doing, I'm interested. I want to see what he cooks up because I just plain like the way he thinks. I remain a "Lost" fan after the ending of the show, and no matter what I thought of individual choices made along the way, that was a great ride overall, and I begrudge the creators of the show nothing. They entertained me for six years. Well-played. That's all I asked.
I am a firm believer in Sacha Baron Cohen.
I think both "Borat" and "Bruno" are impressive character comedies, and the way Cohen builds and inhabits his characters intrigues me. He is a dedicated, inventive performer, and in a way, it feels like "The Dictator" is one of the most important moments he's had so far.
Up till now, we've been watching him cross over from the small screen to the bigscreen. Both Borat and Bruno were characters created for "Da Ali G Show," and they had been tested and perfected there. Both films played as sort of pseudo-documentaries about the characters interacting with people who were often real people, unaware of the joke. And while I think both films have very different things to say, there is an undeniable similarity between them in style. The one traditional narrative comedy that Cohen's done, the actual Ali G movie, was sort of painful. It didn't work as a film, even if there are a few nice moments here and there.
One of the benefits, if you can call them that, of the PlayStation Network getting hacked and being down for a few weeks is that they are fairly desperate to make it up to customers now that they're starting to restore the service. One of the things they're doing is offering customers two free games from a fairly short list, and I picked "Super Stardust HD" as one of my games.
If you've never seen it, it's basically "Asteroids" cranked up to the point of madness, and it's a perfect "I have fifteen minutes and just want to play one quick game of something" title. If you've got a 3D TV, you can even play the game in 3D, and it is totally lunatic when you do so. Playing the game, I've been impressed by the way it is basically just one of the first arcade games of all time, with graphics that are updated but gameplay that is pure throwback. I didn't even realize how much I loved "Asteroids" until I started playing this.
At this point, the fake documentary/found footage subgenere has become almost omnipresent. TV shows have taken on the form with shows like "The Office" and "Modern Family," and since '99, when "The Blair Witch Project" became a box-office sensation, almost every genre's had their found footage movie, and filmmakers continue to wring fresh life out of the basic form.
The latest example of someone getting it right opens this Friday in limited release, and it's worth the effort for you to track it down. Andre Ovredal wrote and directed the film, and it is a smart and funny use of mythology that works as both wicked comedy and sad commentary. At the start of the film, a group of students are working on a documentary about what they believe are poachers, killing bears all over the country. They find the guy they think is responsible and start to follow him, gradually realizing that he's something far stranger than just a poacher.
It's not a spoiler, since it's the title of the movie, to reveal that the stranger turns out to be a Trollhunter, working for the government to not only keep the existence of trolls a secret, but to also keep the trolls on government land, safe and sound. He's been doing it for so long that he's burnt out, and he decides to let the students film what he does, dragging the secret out into the light finally.
Has 20th Century Fox finally turned a corner in terms of the way they're handling their various superhero properties?
Anyone who sat through "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "X-Men: First Class" would have to ask that question, because they are such radically different ways of handling the same basic material that it doesn't seem possible that the same people are behind both films.
David Slade, one of the directors who came close to directing "The Wolverine" before Darren Aronofsky got the job, obviously made a strong impression on the upper brass at Fox, because they ended up hiring him for "Daredevil" instead.Â While some might view that project as tainted goods, Slade seemed genuinely excited by the opportunity, and he's been playing his cards pretty close to his vest over the last couple of months.
Tonight, thanks to the news breaking about the hiring of Brad Caleb Kane to write the film, we also have our first look at what it is that Slade has in mind for the reboot, and it looks like he's going straight for the best-known story from the run of the best writer who's ever worked on the character.
There are few genres that reveal quite as much about the filmmaker as the coming of age story. "Submarine" may be based on a novel by Joe Dunthorne, but there is such a personal quality to the film that a few days after I saw it at Sundance, I happened to spot director Richard Ayoade in the lobby of the Yarrow Hotel, and the urge to walk over and give him a hug ran through me. I resisted, but that's the way "Submarine" affected me. It is a wonderful film, smart and funny and beautifully performed, and it speaks well of what Ayoade is capable of behind the camera.
If Americans know Ayoade, it's probably from his work on "The IT Crowd," a sitcom from the UK where he plays Moss, an uber-nerd who would make the guys on "The Big Bang Theory" look like Shaft by comparison. His co-star on the show, Chris O'Dowd, made his big American breakthrough in films last month as Kristen Wiig's romantic interest in "Bridesmaids," and I'm curious to see what happens with him as a result. It is important, though, for Ayoade's film to make some sort of a splash, because I want more work from him in the future. No… I'll go one step further. Based on how good "Submarine" is, I need more movies from him. Absolutely.
One of the most important things Pixar does is maintain their short film program, allowing younger talents or artists who work in departments where directing may not seem like the most logical next step to make the jump and express new voices. It's paid off in any number of ways over the years, and their short films are one of the highlights of each year's new release.
When we first got the "WALL-E" Blu-ray, I think we watched "Presto," the short film that was attached to that film, about 150 times. It's a masterpiece of timing and performance, and one of the things I love about these short films is how they can emphasize a single idea or a technical innovation, and they help push forward the technical side of the feature division. I also dug it when they gave Gary Rydstrom a shot at directing with "Lifted," which is a great piece of comedy staging, or when they had Bud Luckey, a legend in the industry, finally bring his long-time dream "Boundin'" to life.
Now, Enrico Casarosa is going to be taking his shot with "La Luna," and we've got a look at the film's style as well as a synopsis for you.
If you'd like to get a look at the original "Big Man Japan," it's available on Netflix Instant right, and it's worth your time. Of course, I offer up that information with a caveat: the movie is incredibly, almost mind-bogglingly weird.
It's also one of those things where the more familiar you are with the film conventions that it intentionally, gleefully subverts, the more you're going to end up enjoying the film, and it really only works as a response to the tradition of kaiju movies and TV shows that are such a fundamental part of Japan's pop culture history.
So when the news broke via press release this morning to announce that Columbia purchased the remake and sequel rights to "Big Man Japan," I had a hard time imagining what sort of plans Neal Moritz has for the material. Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi are already onboard to write the new film, and it sounds like something they are moving forward on fairly quickly.
As usual, there are no isolated incidents in Hollywood, and right now, kaiju is starting to become a hot property in general. Legendary Pictures seems determined to make the genre viable on the bigscreen between their development of "Godzilla" and Guillermo Del Toro's "Pacific Rim," and both of those sound like serious approaches to the notion of giant monsters.