Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Sex and the City 2"

Even as a fan "Sex and the City" show I pretty much hated The Movie. It was just so much worse than any single episode of the series, and also three times as long. Acting was extremely affected, especially in case of Kristin Davis, and the dialogues were dumb. The writers for the movie seemingly pulled the lame story out of their asses and threw in some toilet humor for good measure.

I predict that the sequel won't be much different. The newest "Sex and the City 2" trailer shows off lots of chic, glamour, pretty dresses and passionate kisses. One can only wonder how stupid the drama part will be this time. So far it looks like Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda will just keep on parading their posh lives in front of our envious (they wish) eyes. However I'm sure we can still find a way to enjoy the "Sex" sequel - as long as we view it as a catalogue of latest and trendiest fashions.
View trailer here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Cop Out" is so out

Roger Ebert just confirmed what I suspected - newest Kevin Smith's flick "Cop Out" is complete crap. When I first saw its poster on Smith's twitter page, I thought: another white cop/black cop action comedy? Bruce Willis playing yet another cop? Why did Smith bother with that? I was neither impressed much by the trailer - it hardly contained a single really funny joke or anything remarkable at all. The presence of Sean William Scott, whom I consider among the lamest American comic stars of today, was even more disappointing. And now Ebert completely trashed the film.

My conclusion is: Smith is really in need of the money. And no matter how much he would defend this creation on twitter, I would keep on hoping that he really knows it sucks. After all I liked his previous "Zack and Miri." So I keep on believing that Mr. Smith is not "out" just yet and his next project will be worthy of my attention.
Here's Roger Ebert's full review.

"Zoolander": take two

Who would have though it - nine years later, Ben Stiller's Derek Zoolander is coming back! Stiller will co-write the screenplay with Justin Theroux, writer for "Iron Man 2" and "Tropic Thunder," who will also direct. Jonah Hill is in talks as villain for "Zoolander 2" - and that I would really love to see. Owen Wilson hasn't signed up yet, but I don't believe he'd miss a chance to be "Hansel" again. And clearly Stiller will call up some celebrity buddies to add in quite a few cool cameos in the movie.

"Zoolander" was hilarious in its utter idiocy. Stiller's typically affected representation there felt like a trademark - you almost started to "believe" in Zoolander. After all don't we consider models completely and hopelessly dumb - until they prove otherwise? But all those years later, Zoolander can surely no longer model - he's just an unbelievably clueless middle-aged man in love with his "handsome" looks. So let's see how they will squeeze him back into the fashion industry - as a designer, perhaps?
Read more details here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kurt Cobain movie in the talks

So it's been partially confirmed - Kurt Cobain biopic may be happening. Actually, its surprising that Hollywood with its passion for exploiting lives of all iconic personas, especially those who have died a tragic death, haven't tried to film Nirvana's frontman story until just now. Of course there was Gus Van Sant with his "Last Days" about a musician who looked just like Cobain, but mainstream audience requires a much more clean & clear life and death story. Oren Moverman was picked out as the most fitting director - as the writer of Bob Dylan biopic "I'm not There," he may be just the right man for the job. However the writer here is David Beinoff, who had his Cobain screenplay ready since a couple of years. Beinoff has written "Troy" and more recent "Brothers." But for fans the most crucial question is who will play Kurt and that's still unknown.
MTV movies blog has more details here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Classic Moment: "Freaks" (1932)

Viewing the cult films chart today, made me think of how much I love talking about "Freaks." Truly one of the freakiest films ever made, it's unique for so many reasons. In the early 1980s Stephen King wrote in his "Danse Macabre" that many people would talk about "Freaks" but very few of them have actually seen it. A lot has changed since then and in this internet era anyone can see "Freaks" if they so choose. Still, in this part of the world where I live, very few people would even talk about this movie - they have no idea what it is.

A truly unprecedented experiment, "Freaks" lacks outstanding acting and dialogue. But it is a real slash of history. Never again a movie featuring bearded woman, Siamese twins and a man missing all his limbs will be made unless its a documentary telling about their difficult lives.

But while "Freaks" was made in the time where such characters were among common circus attractions (all "freak" actors and extras were circus celebrities of their time), it turned out that audience wasn't at all ready to see them in a cinema - acting in a Hollywood production.

Moreover, the movie was released in 1932, right when the newly adopted Hays Production Code was being put into force - and there was oh so much to censor in the "Freaks." The film was so severely cut that many scenes now look carelessly glued together with no regard to the story. Many sex-related lines and moments were removed, as well as those directly referring to the "normal" but evil circus artists as the true freaks. And the happier ending with the reunion of the midget couple (brother and sister in real life) was also added later - to make the film more appealing.

Yet, all those efforts didn't save the "Freaks." The movie was soon banned in the English speaking world and stayed that way for many years. By the time it was rediscovered, it was pretty much forgotten.

"Freaks" was a daring enterprise. In what turned out to be a career-ending move, Browning chanced to make a horror movie with some genuine, nature-made horror. And he did that in a country where black people were played by the white just some 15 years ago. The fashion for faking prevailed in Hollywood then as it still does. Nowadays, when horror movies are all about graphic violence and fake blood, "Freaks" still looks almost just as ominous as it did 80 years ago. Its just way too non fake.

"Big Lebowski" and the other 33 top cult movies

I couldn't help but totally agree with Total Film's latest chart - the 34 Greatest Cult Movies of All Time (see full list here) - "Big Lebowski" IS The Main Cult Movie. And that despite the fact that "Shawshank Redemption" is "officially" my personal favorite and, thankfully, it was also on the list. As well as my second favorite from Coen Bro's filmography - "Barton Fink" ("Between heaven and hell there is always hollywood..." - is my fav tagline). And "Clerks" and "Brazil" are deserving of the Cult title each in their own right.

"Plan 9 From Outer Space" and "Showgirls" are likewise icons - they are just so bad, that you can't help loving them all the more for it. And of course "Freaks" is simply unique as the kind of film that can never be made again.

I've only one question - what's with "Mamma Mia?" Yeah its kinda bad too, but not bad enough to make much of a difference. Yeah there are some pleasing performances, but it's essentially an all-commercial venture exploiting ABBA's musical heritage in such a foul manner that makes you wanna start throwing things at the screen. All because the majority of actors singing in the movie shouldn't be allowed to ever sing - even in the shower.

Must see: "Shutter Island"

So looks like "Shutter Island" is a must see after all. The reviews are rather mixed and conflicting: just compare the piece by the NYTimes and a rather flattering one by Roger Ebert here.

Myself I've always found Scorsese and DiCaprio collaborations worthwile if not more. In fact, I wasn't so crazy about "The Departed," but both "The Aviator" and "Gangs of New York" proved to be quality entertainment. I also often found myself defending DiCaprio whenever someone suggested that he "couldn't act." I was never a big fan of his, but I know for a fact that he's a good actor and his film career is not defined by starring in "Titanic."

While $40 million collected by "Shutter Island" in first opening weekend doesn't guarantee it's a great movie, I have a gut feeling (based on all I've read and heard) it will be worth my time. And when it comes to films, my gut feeling is usually right.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

BAFTA Winners

So there we have it. BAFTA's over. The "Hurt Locker" is a big winner, having collected quite a few nods, including Best Film, Best Direction for Kathryn Bigelow, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Sound. Very glad for Duncan Jones - most promising newcomer for the awesome "Moon." Christoph Waltz is Best Supporting Actor in "Inglourious Basterds" and Kristen Stewart is Best Rising Star - both totally deserving! And just a couple of minor awards for Avatar - makes total sense. Full list of BAFTA winners here.

BAFTAs on the way

It so happens that this year I have managed to watch only a few of the films featured in the nominations for 2009's major awards. Still, in view of the BAFTA ceremony tonight, I make my own "predictions" of the films that I think should win - of those that I saw. Totally biased, I know, but either way - those films deserve to be honored. Even if there are those that deserve it more. See full list of nominees here.

"Moon" - My choice for Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film of the Year

The obvious associations with Tarkovsky and Kubrick, "Moon" quickly dispels by taking us into some very different territories. Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is marooned on the Moon. He has an important but rather dull job, his only connection to the real world are recorded video massages and his only company is a robot voiced by Kevin Spacey. His wife and child await him on Earth and he can't wait to get back as his contract runs out. Instead he's about to discover a shocking secret.

Rockwell is flawless in this solo performance and director Duncan Jones does an equally great job. In the world that's so quiet for the most part, he uses music to build up tension. And the image of Bell's moon vehicle against the background of faraway Earth ("I just want to go home!" Bell cries inside) is one of the best expressions of loneliness ever seen on screen.

BAFTAs: "Coraline"

"Coraline" - My Choice for Best Animated Feature.

The animation breathes Tim Burton all the way through, and indeed - producer, director and writer for the film is Henry Selick who directed "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Thus "Coraline" serves as final proof that talent for making dark cartoons is in his blood.

The film is a little lonely girl's ominous journey into a "better" world that's actually rotten inside. Little girl is Coraline who discovers a trap door in her new home and walks over to another dimension populated by kind, affectionate and fun duplicates of her moody parents and creepy neighbors. The only thing that sets the "duplicates" apart from the real people, is buttons for eyes.

That and many other elements creating the perfectly eerie atmosphere in Coraline's world make the cartoon enjoyable for viewers of different ages, especially the fans of Burton's fantasies.

BAFTAs: "District 9"

"District 9" - My choice for Achievement in Direction, Screenplay, Cinematography - or at least one of those.

Oh how thrilled I was when "District 9" was included in the long list of Oscar nominees for Best Picture. Naturally it won't win, but the acknowledgment is a big deal already. Truth is "District 9" was a surprise discovery for me too. My first thought was - "another alien invasion movie? Nah" And then I saw a review calling it an alien movie for "thinking audience." Now that was more interesting and it also proved very true.

Set in South Africa, "District 9" has all the thrills of an alien/monster action movie with plenty of killings, chases and graphic violence. And in the same time its full of allusions to segregation, racism, human rights, individual freedoms, double standards and human greed.

Shot in part as documentary, it keep you (or at least kept me) glued to the screen to the very end and doesn't give you a moment's rest. Note: there are no even remotely familiar actors in this movie.

BAFTAs: "Julie & Julia"

Meryl Streep is my choice for Best Actress for "Julie & Julia"

Not being an American, I never heard of Julia Child before I saw the film. Still, I was instantly enchanted by her - and all thanks to Streep. Besides I later checked out the video of real Julia Child and was could see that Streep did an ingenious portrayal.

Streep's Julia is an extremely lovable character, despite her rather plain features, unwomanly tallness and shrill voice. She's kind, sweet, smart, a bit naive and confident at the same time, charming everyone around her. Her love for cooking proves completely infectious and the film itself is nothing short of "delicious" - all thanks to Julia/Meryl.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Lost Art of Inglourious Basterds

What can I say that's some of the best "lost art" that ever was found. Some great poster artists worked on these. Of course those posters could never go into wide release in our mainstream world, and only some lucky individuals will buy them and hang them in their living rooms. Hopefully some of these works will also appear in some poster collection books. See more posters here.

Polanski gets his share at Berlin film fest

That's something that could be predicted - the troubled Roman Polanski, now kept in house arrest in Switzerland gets the Best Director Silver Bear for "The Ghost Writer." Perhaps the film is really deserving, but still looks strictly political - they just had to comfort the poor guy. It reminds me of Peter Jackson winning it all at Oscars only after he completed his trilogy - cause it was too much work to ignore. Or when Scorsese received his Oscar share for "Departed" - he had made much more Oscar-deserving films in the past, but now they gave it to him just because they couldn't put it off any longer, not because of the film... Read more about Berlin festival here.

Also check out the "Ghost Writer" trailer

Film of the Day: "Tropic Thunder"

"Tropic Thunder" just started showing on TV and just like that solved my dilemma on what to make my first Film of the Day in this blog. "Thunder" is notable in one thing - its the only film with Ben Stiller and, coincidentally, also made by Ben Stiller, which I actually enjoyed. The second place in my Stiller rating is taken by "Zoolander" which is so incredibly stupid that it's not possible to totally hate it.

So why "Tropic Thunder is so good? Because every actor in "Thunder" (and several of them I usually can't stand at all) plays a parody of himself. Stiller is as dumb as ever, and as overacting as ever. Robert Downey Jr. is "convincingly" portrays black man and can't go out of character "till his does DVD commentary." Jack Black is simply obnoxious. Matthew McConaughey is an agent (his hair especially curly giving him an extra cheesy look), who will risk everything just to bring Stiller with TeeVo, which he doesn't even want. There are many adorable moments, including Stiller, a renegade soldier, watching a movie on iPod while hiding out in the jungle on a rainy night. And finally there is almost unrecognizable Tom Cruise - as bold sonovabitch Jewish producer, whose hip-hop dance during final credits is an absolute must-see.

Horror Film Posters

"Plan 9 From Outer Space" + 99 more horror film posters here. Some totally ridiculous, others - instant classics, and some - both. My personal favs are "Dace Race 2000," "Forbidden Planet," "Up From the Depth" and "Robinson Crusoe On Mars." And I just really like the word "C.H.U.D." - gotta see it.

Looking at them made me recall that I still have to watch "The Changeling" - which I downloaded by accident when looking for the other "Changeling" with Angelina Jolie. Maybe I'll see it tonight - the spooky one I mean, 'cause I can't make myself again watch Jolie scream: "It's not my son!" in the camera for two hours.

Oscar countdown

A little more than two weeks left till Oscar. Will it honor some real achievements rather than just get all commercial again? Will Sandra Bullock or Meryl Strip snatch the Best Actress Award? Will Kathrine Bigelow get her Director Oscar? And will "Avatar" be the absolute toast of the night? (Most likely and that's so lame) Legendary film critic Roger Ebert makes his predictions here.