Sunday, October 31, 2010

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 11


THE TRAILER ROUND-UP

"The Descent" - the crazy creatures = "Sanctum." Looks pretty enough and interesting enough. Meh. Maybe.

The "Okay...": "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never." I'm very oblivious to the kid, but props to him never giving up... wait... he's only 16...

Nothing I'm leaving my lasso around this week folks.

ENLISTED

Top 50 Horror Movies - Rotten Tomatoes: I figured this was appropriate given the season. A lot of people are upset to not find "The Exorcist" on this list. Having yet to see it, I'm not one of them. Couldn't be more pleased with their #1.

NEW IN THEATERS
  • Monsters* - 64%
  • Saw 3D - 8%

NEW IN STORES
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden) - 68%
  • The Infidel - 62%
  • Sex and the City 2 - 16%
  • Winter's Bone - 94%

Sunday, October 24, 2010

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 10

THE TRAILER ROUND-UP

The Simon Pegg and Nick Frost duo return! However, this time "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" were easily two of the funniest flicks of last decade. They are returning in February with "Paul," a comedy with subject matter out of this world.

Apparently what came out last month was not "The Last Exorcism" because come 2011 there is going to be more, this time with Sir Anthony Hopkins in a little freaky picture called "Th


All hail Pixar! Thus far the practically-perfect-in-every-way team has only released sequels to their first and best film ("Toy Story"). It is a strange thing then to hear word of them making "Cars 2," a sequel to my least favorite Pixar feature. This lackluster teaser may be the most unimpressive thing I've ever seen to come from their studio. Are times changing?

Toss of the Week: Generally speaking, losing a child is one of the worst experiences imaginable. "Rabbit Hole" is an artsy and gutsy stab at capturing the lives of a couple who had to bury their child. This was easily my top pick for the week.

ENLISTED

Rotten Tomatoes - "Five Favorite Films with Tim Burton" Pretty self-explanatory. The guy is an absolute visionary. Check out what inspired him!

NEW IN THEATERS
  • Hereafter - 51%
  • Paranormal Activity 2 - 67%
NEW IN STORES
  • Oceans - 80%
  • Predators - 63%

Thursday, October 21, 2010

VAMPIRES SUCK - REVIEW

VAMPIRES SUCKAugust 18, 2010 (worst birthday present imaginable)
82 min (82 minutes too long)
Written and Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (now America's Most Wanted)



This might be one small step for Friedberg, Seltzer and the other deceived denizens of their cast and crew, but in my eyes it is one giant leap in the degeneration of comedic cinema.

MY CRITICAL DISCLAIMS: A RANT BEGINS

I exalt and endorse constructive criticism. Some people write "reviews" that look something like this: "This movie sucks. If you like it, you are so gay." Such an opinion really does nothing for the reader/hearer short of adding vindication to explain the writer/speaker's denseness. To epitomize, constructive criticism (yet another topic I plan to address in a someday-written-article; I want to call this one "Everyone's a Critic") keenly identifies the elements that worked in a film and explains why. Furthermore, when handled carefully, the critic can analyze what did not work in a film, explain why, and when appropriate, pitch a cure. A law in constructive criticism demands the reviewer to not judge a film for what it isn't, but only for what it is.

With all that said, this time around I am throwing constructive criticism out the window (the window, the second story window!). Why? The writer/directors Adam Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer simply do not deserve it. You've heard the supportable axiom: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Perhaps that overshadows the more obvious rule that if it is broke, you oughta fix it! These two have been attempting to build a neighborhood with rusty tools and damaged materials... All the houses on the block are broken! They are making movies, (movies that are all spoofs of other movies) feigning to be a sub-genre of comedy, that are not comedic.

I am a huge "Weird Al" Yankovic fan, he is mostly famous for his parodies of pop songs. I think he is a madly creative genius and consistently funny. Also, he frequently makes his own unparodied comedic songs. Mel Brooks managed to spoof "Star Wars" and then some with "Spaceballs," but it was frequently inventive and often hilarious. His "Blazing Saddles" took on the entire Western genre and was clever enough that it worked. ALL Friedberg-Seltzer can manage to do is take a film or genre and redo select scenes with added scatological humor and/or replacement gags (i.e. In "Twilight" this town was called Forks, in "Vampires Suck" it is called Sporks). Yankovic and Brooks have adopted similar techniques, the only difference being their outcomes are artfully mirthful. Spoofing is, in essence, making fun of something. It is, in essence, varying degrees of mean-spiritedness. The only thing to save this difficult base is to counter with a positive emotion. With burlesque this is more often than not laughter. When such results are nowhere in sight, the performer comes off being a jerk. And that, ladies and gentlefellows, is why Friedberg and Seltzer simply do not deserve constructive criticism. Besides, it is a bit of a blast to occasionally run on a rant. Shall I begin?
SLIGHT STEP
"Witlessly broad and utterly devoid of laughs, 'Vampires Suck' represents a slight step forward for the Friedberg-Seltzer team." -The Rotten Tomatoes consensus
A "slight step forward"? Oh my America! If this unripe tripe is an improvement, then these guys should have stopped making films before now. Most previously the dreadful Friedberg-Seltzer duo released (in this case analogous with "gas emitted from the anus," my dear dictionary's definition of "fart" - okay, sorry, I'm beginning to sink to their level of "amusement" - consider this a radical form of proxy informing - as if you you saw this movie too) "Disaster Movie," "Meet the Spartans," and "Epic Movie." The three of these each reaching a rank of 2% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ah, I see what you did there RT crew! 7% > 2% and so = "a slight step forward." Makes sense. But really, if this movie is a slight step anywhere, it's backwards (I haven't seen those three films and dread to, but "Vampires Suck" can NOT be an improvement. Can not I say!). I think of the infamous diagram of human evolution. I imagine the upright man waddling backwards from whence he came. Or if it must be a step forward it must be referring to this rendition. Yes, I am suggesting a devolution in the human race. Only an undertaking as vile and as abysmal as this movie could make me question the true origin of a man for a second and consider the seemingly only possibility. "Vampires Suck" is, in every sense of the word, godawful.

AND OTHER CHOICE WORDS
This movie makes the actual "Twilight" (which I approve as a personal guilty pleasure) seem like a masterpiece in comparison. It's sole purpose (to make a mockery of and molest the "Twilight Saga") falls flat on its despicable face and fervently fails due to countless inane attempts at what humans call humor. At one particularly dreadful point in the movie my date pointed out that the filmmakers weren't even capable of recreating the impressive cinematography during the montage sequence found early on in "New Moon." The very scene they poorly parodied contains more artistic merit than anything found in their work.
When the best parts of your film (and boy oh boy are they few and far between... a one-armed man could easily count them on his fingers) can barely emit a half-hearty chuckle that you soon enough suppress upon realizing how stupid the gag really was, you've got a Frankenstein of a creation that, like an ignited rabid dog, should be shot.
When you're firing on all canons, literally aiming for hundreds of laughs throughout, and virtually none of them hit, it's time to scuttle the craft, sack the crew, and sentence your captain to be hanged. You want some constructive criticism (the term I discussed in opening) folks? STOP MAKING MOVIES.
In all honesty, I'd rather watch "Cannibal Holocaust" again (and in slow motion!) than sit through this lowly, unacceptable, obtuse excuse for "entertainment." I may have finally stumbled upon the shipload of stools I can label "the worst movie I've ever seen." And I've seen "Soul Plane."
I apologize on behalf of my girlfriend who took me to this sorry excuse for a movie last Tuesday and surrendered exactly $2.00 at the box office. Luckily, a portion of that will go to theater (right?), but from the look of things, I think the remainder might prove to be a significant portion for the budget of whatever Friedberg-Seltzer choose to defile next. My apologies to humankind as well.
I should admit that there was one person in the theater who was laughing nearly throughout. At this point I do not know her story nor her sorrow, but I will ever remember her laugh (like that one "Seinfeld" episode). If I ever find the secreter of those distinct guffaws I will ask of her, "Please, how can I fix you?"

Earlier this week a respectable critic over at JoBlo posted a top ten list entitled "Movie Jail." I like the concept. It is "a place to put repeat offenders of cinematic trash." I was amused, though not at all surprised, to see who he put in the #1 spot. Said he of
Friedberg-Seltzer, "Nobody on the planet makes worse films than these two... Anybody that has ever supported them, encouraged them, smiled in their general direction, or simply poured them a... coffee should be ashamed of themselves. Movie Jail just made the world a better place."
This statement isn't all that clever (and I highly doubt original - I bet critics around our planet are using it), but I will state it nonetheless: "Vampires Suck" sucks.

  

CONTENT:
Why bother?! Just don't see it!

Friday, October 15, 2010

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 9



THE TRAILER ROUND-UP


Every year each country gets to submit one film to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be considered for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards (AKA the Oscars). Of those myriad entrees, five are officially nominated. For the 83rd Academy Awards (sometime Q1 2011), Peru has officially submitted
"Contracorriente (Undertow)." The synopsis calls this a "unique ghost story set on the Peruvian seaside." After watching the trailer I have no idea what is going on. I feel that is a good thing when trailers are concerned, but surely not when the film itself is that way. We'll see.

"Chico and Rita" is an up and down love story set in the late '40s. Music is a priority in this piece. The mixture of hand-drawn animation with the use of CGI looks stunning. In select theaters on November 19th.

A couple of documentaries emerge from another point of view to things. As an answer to "An Inconvenient Truth" and global warming in general we've got "Cool It." And for all you Mayans out there who believe 2012 is Earth's last hurrah, "2012: Time For Change." Both are docs about "going green" and how we can do it. They seem to be of a more optimistic variety and confront the FEAR that runs so rampant in our societies. That same issue is among the more interesting themes running throughout Michael Moore's collection.

The "Okay...":*
*Here is another
Trailer Round-Up reward. This one goes to the trailer that while/after seeing I find myself saying "Okay...." You should know the word and orate-method I'm referring to. If you don't, you should.

This weeks "Okay..." goes to
"I Am Number Four." Is this based on a previously existing intellectual property? This looks and sounds (I read the plot description) like a mixed bag of fantasy banalities. D.J. Caruso, who's "Disturbia" w
as a fun contemporary retelling of Hitchcock's "Rear Window," directs this one. Has a film that looks and sounds like this ever succeeded? Not to my knowledge. You've got a lot to prove Mr. Caruso. I hope for the best, but still emit "Okay...."

Toss of the Week: We frequently receive proof of the stock phrase, "Fact is stranger than fiction." "Marwencol" is yet another pound of proof to this debatable truth. I love strange docs ("Vernon, Florida," "King of Kong," and anything Herzogian), so this one is like unto a friendly and exotic creature approaching me with a protruding tongue in the grocery store. That is to say, a pleasant surprise. Non-fiction films consistently pack more emotional punch than most of other breeds. It is the most "realistic" aspects of the fiction films that can even measure up. It has been written that "the truth will set you free." Filmmakers who work in accordance to this certitude will be free to influence their audience in powerful ways. "Marwencol" is a true story of a fellow man, one I am eager to notice.
ENLISTED

Entertainment Weekly - "The 50 Greatest Directors and Their 100 Best Movies" (Here is the same list on a single page.) It's a good list. They've got most of the essentials: Hitchcock, Ford, Keaton, Spielberg, Kurosawa, Scorsese, and my favorite, Herzog. I believe this list was dated 1996, which would explain the absence of modern marvels I'd like to see, including P.T. Anderson, Tarantino, Miyazaki, the Coens and Zhang Yimou. I can think of a few they could replace...

THE GOOD*

"The Hobbit" has finally been greenlit! Shooting will begin in February and "Part 1" is scheduled to be among us on December 19, 2012. I'm guessing "Part 2" will come a year later. I, for one, am fine waiting. Take as long as you need Mr. Jackson (that's right, P.J. is directing!) to make us another epic masterpiece. Getting the production for this film to take off has been like coaxing an emu to take flight. Alas, miracles do happen. Read more (including the complications) on The Wrap.

Near-unanimous praise is always a delightful thing. There are currently three films in wide release that are being heralded highly (according to the TOMATOMETER on Rotten Tomatoes): "Let Me In" - 88%, "The Town" - 95%, and "The Social Network" - 97%.

THE BAD

I saw "Vampires Suck." Look for my venomous review on The Film Tome soon!

AND THE UGLY
*Changing "and the Weird" to "and the Ugly" this week. I'll use which ever of the two best suits the news. Cool?



Uwe Boll is a notorious filmmaker. I've never seen one of his movies, but those who have love to hate them. In fact, five of Boll's films are on IMDb's Bottom 100 (the opposite of the Top 250). He is largely responsible for the quite-true statement, "Films based on video games blow." If there ever was a video game that shouldn't have been made into a movie, that game was "Postal." And Boll did. Well, now Mr. Boll, a German writer and director, is stirring more controversy than ever with the announcement and teaser of his next film, "Auschwitz." At first glance this seems like a "Passion of the Christ" for the victims of said concentration camp. By this I mean graphically portraying the suffering, torturing, and killing of the victim(s). Mel Gibson's attempt was a powerful success in my book, admittedly one I don't want to frequently behold. I wonder if Boll is capable of such an accomplishment. Then again, after watching the trailer for his adaptation of "Postal," a comedy of the WORST kind, I doubt. Other film gurus are calling it "tasteless." Lastly, I really wonder what the masses would be saying if some other iconic director's name (i.e. one widely acclaimed rather than one widely disdained) was attached to this project. I honestly think the responses would be very different. Enough talk, here's the trailer for "Auschwitz," decide for yourself. (WARNING: This trailer contains graphic images. Think "Schindler's List" in color. Viewer discretion strongly exhorted.)





NEW IN THEATERS*
*Quite simple. I tell you what films are coming to theaters this week/weekend and their current rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Conviction - 60%
  • Hereafter* - 60%
  • Jackass 3D - 59%
  • Red - 69%
  • Samson and Delilah - 97%
* = Limited Release









NEW IN STORES*
*Again, a simple piece. I tell what films have come out on DVD/BluRay/whatever this week.
  • How To Train Your Dragon - 98%
  • lo sono l'amore (I Am Love) - 81%
  • Jonah Hex - 13%
  • Leaves of Grass - 61%

Sunday, October 10, 2010

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 8

THE TRAILER ROUND-UP
"Yogi Bear" - Jared Hess, you were beyond wise to pass this "opportunity" by. The first trailer came out last month and I failed to make an announcement. A second trailer has now been released. I watched them both. My thoughts? Well, if anything, it can serve a a tech demo for which CGI animation is put into a live action world. But really, "Jurassic Park" did a better job at that 17 years ago. I realize I am probably not the target audience (at least I sure hope not!). Having never seen the original cartoon I've nothing invested here. Those of you who are older and have, might take your kidlets and go see it with an optimistic attitude. I just hope you find something to enjoy because these trailers seem void of such a feature. Oh! Oh! Oh! And guess what! It's in 3-flippin'-D! It comes out Christmas Day. Sorry Warner Bros., I'm gonna be seeing "True Grit" instead.

I remember "Four Lions" making noticeable waves at Sundance earlier this year. It looks like a brilliant satire on terrorism and yes, "funny." November 5th somewhere.

"Ip Man" - (Disclaimer: Contains bloodless martial arts violence) I'm sure this film is going to be all right (at least all right), but the preview is so bad it's funny। That movie-trailer-voice is just painful. You gotta see it. Honestly, it seems like a spoof on trailers, but I'm very afraid it is not. It is not fair for this 2008 Hong Kong film to get such a marketing campaign in the United States. The injustice delivered to foreign films through their American releases is a damn shame sometimes. Still, enjoy the unintentional comedy while we have it. A truth to live by: "Whilst in sad times, find the humor in it." I look forward to seeing this one and giving it a fresh start once the opening credits roll (in its intended language of course, dubbing is a form Satanism).

I have not seen a Julie Taymor film. I really want to (namely, "Across the Universe"). She is (as the trailer says) what we call a "visionary director." It's kind of a trite phrase because every director is a visionary in his/her own right. However, it seems to especially fit the bill with her. She is a filmmaker whose products are so stylized that they are as far from generic as could be. Much like Tarsem. Here is the bewildering and beautiful trailer for her adaptation of another Shakespeare work (she previously made "Titus"), "The Tempest." In theaters December 10th.

The trailer for "Never Let Me Go" (scroll down to reach the trailer) has been out for months now, in fact, the film is already out in select theaters. It stars Carey Mulligan who was magnificent in last years "An Education," the ever-exquisite Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield who was part of "The Social Network"'s knockout cast. It looks inventive, classy, and very pretty. I'm quite excited to see this one!

A second and longer trailer for "True Grit" burst out this week. I have a hard time backing it up because I feel it gives much too much away. Still, it looks splendid. Still, I prefer the first trailer (as plugged in AllMoPs 7).

Toss of the Week: The second trailer for "127 Hours" is even better than the first and gets this week's top prize in The Trailer Round-Up, "Toss of the Week." Just from witnessing the trailer I guarantee James Franco is going to get several nominations for Best Actor. Director Danny Boyle is one of the most diverse filmmakers under the sun (he even took us to the sun in "Sunshine") and I'm always amazed by what he delivers. "127 Hours" looks amazing. You can count on finding this one in a theater near you on November 5th. Less than a month away!

ENLISTED*
*Lists are always good. I am both a consumer and maker of the lovely things. AllMoPs is about plugging others, so you won't be seeing my lists here, but those that I find and feel ought to be seen/studied. Joy!

Entertainment Weekly - "12 Documentaries That Changed The World." There are several on here that I haven't seen and so I enjoy this nice batch of "To Watch" recommendations. Of the ones I have seen, I full-heartedly agree on their influence to cause change. This week I saw "The Cove" for the first time. It is brilliant. I also re-watched "Fahrenheit 9/11" this week. Still brilliant.


IMDb - Top 20 Horror Films of the Past 20 Years. As part of their 20th anniversary (see "The Good" below), the editors of IMDb have made several lists. This one will surely surprise any cinephile. Having seen most of the films mentioned I have some definite agreements ("The Descent") and some definite disagreements ("Twilight"? Horror? Really?). Any list or ranking is going to stir some controversy. That's one aspect I savor about them.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD*
*I've a couple of "inspired by" credits to acknowledge here:
I was inspired by the magazine Game Informer to have a segment like this.
This title was inspired by the recent South Korean film of the same name (which was inspired by the epic Sergio Leone film, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," which is what Game Informer uses). Basically, I take recent film news that I deem worth sharing and feature it in one of the three headings.

THE GOOD

IMDb (AKA "Best Website Ever") is celebrating it's 20th Anniversary on October 17th. Every day over the next little while they are having a "Star of the Day" talk about movies. They are having a year by year countdown to 2010, each day another year. And there are all sorts of other features. Click here to check some of the goodness out for yourself. Congratulations IMDb! Happy anniversary!

This semester, as part of the Brigham Young University Motion Picture Archive Film Series, Dr. James D'Arc (curator of BYU's Motion Picture Archive) is hosting a series called, "When Hollywood Came to Town: Moviemaking in Utah." This comes in nice conjunction with the release of Dr. D'Arc's book of a similar name. It's been going on for a month now and I've been to each installment. It is a divine opportunity to see older westerns (possibly my favorite genre) shot in Utah the way they were meant to be seen. Hearing the history and seeing a few of the movies so far, I am more and more proud to be a Utahan, born and raised in this amazing place (especially the distinct beauty of Southern Utah). Most of the films are not available on DVD, so it might be one's only chance to see some of these. The next film to be shown will be "Ramrod" (1947) on Oct. 22. If you're in the area, I highly endorse attending. Admission is free. 7:00 PM in the Harold B. Lee Auditorium.

THE BAD

Other then "Yogi Bear"... Nope.

AND THE WEIRD
Word on the street is that Mel Gibson delivers a home run performance in "The Beaver" and is a possible Oscar contender. The plot synopsis as found on IMDb reads, "A guy walk around with a puppet of a beaver on his hand and treats it like a living creature." I'm intrigued. Jodie Foster, who directs the strange flick, has called it "one of [Gibson's] most powerful and moving experiences." Read more in this Deadline article. The question is if Gibson could/would be considered after all the drama surrounding him as of late. Drama. I for one think we should separate the going-ons in any artist's life and let their work be judged fairly for what it is. If his performance in "The Beaver" is as good as we're hearing, he better be nominated!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 7

THE TRAILER ROUND-
UP

Have you heard of "Secretariat"? Well, it comes out Friday (Oct. 8th) and that's the only reason I'm mentioning it. The trailer left me rather underwhelmed. It is a Disney movie about a sport (horse-racing this time)... I'm betting I can already tell you the story. Yes, even with that tag-line "The Impossible True Story." These are some of the most cookie-cutter films around! Maybe I'm just cynical or heaven forbid, a little jaded, but I'm not looking forward to this one. Sigh. I've been very unfair to the "Secretariat," taking o
ut my anger toward an entire sub-genre on a singular innocent attempt. I hope it brings something new to the table, I really do. Now, Let me say two nice thing: 1) The film looks very pretty. 2) It has invaluable John Malkovich.

Back in Issue 2 I plugged two alien films, "Skyline" and "Monsters." They've each received another trailer and both offer a glimpse at what our protags are up against. Personally, I'm liking the looks of "Monsters" more. It seems to be mor
e serious while "Skyline" looks like a B movie with super duper effects. In the end, I am of the opinion that there is no such thing as too many alien and/or monster movies. I welcome both of them.

Here is something new: "Vision." Interesting to say the least. A portrait of the 12th-century nun, Hildegard von Bingen... What's up with the eye of Sauron at the end of the trailer?

Another over-the-top martial arts epic? I'm game. In the s
ame vein as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and every other wannabe that followed comes "The Warrior's Way." December 3rd. Somewhere.

If you haven't heard about "Waiting for 'Superman,'" you will. Directed by Davis Guggenheim, the chap who shared "An Inconvenient Truth" with us, this is the next doc to rock. This time America's education system is the subject at hand. Again, it is already out, but "Where?" is the perpetual inquiry. Y'know, I should make a documentary about how most theaters never show any documentaries! The only thing is, I'm afraid nobody will see it. We've only ourselves to blame. We rather rush out to see stuff like "Sup
erman Returns" than "Waiting for 'Superman.'"

Toss of the Week: Like Mr. Eastwood, the Coen Brothers are on a roll, releasing a film every holiday season for the past few years. This week the spectacular trailer for their remake of "True Grit" emerged. I'm already declaring "film of the year" for this one. I will be able to confirm such a bold prediction on Christmas Day. The talented brothers team up with Jeff Bridges ("The Big Lebowski") and Josh Brolin ("No Country For Old Men") again, while welcoming Matt Damon to their team for the first time (he looks wholly original this time around - see trailer). The rookie is Hailee Steinfeld playing as Mattie Ross who hires a marshal (Bridges) to avenge the murder of her father. I'll have to catch up with the original John Wayne film before this one releases to provide myself with the ultimate experience!