Monday, March 28, 2011

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 24

TRAILER ROUND-UP


I would not have guessed "13 Assasins" was the work of Takashi Miike. Why? Because it looks like a serious, straight story. He's the mad director behind such films as "Audition," "Ichi the Killer," and "Dead or Alive." All very dark and very twisted stuff. "13 Assassins" on the other hand looks like a "Seven Samurai" remix. It is always refreshing to see directors trying something new. This trailer is a prime example of title card narration. These often try to come across as epic, but just feel silly. Do their makers not realize several trailers poke fun of such attempts? Yet there is no shortage, especially and unfortunately for the foreign film. Anyways, I am looking forward to some katana action. Take up your sword come April 29th.


"Attack the Block" is said to be to the alien invasion film what "Shaun of the Dead" was to the zombie film. Like that trope-toting masterwork, it is a British film and director Edgar Wright is attached, though as a producer this time. Not to mention the likable Nick Frost plays a role as well. Still, this trailer fails to impress due to large cast of un-compelling kids and a lame-looking alien. It will be hitting theaters in the UK this May, no official US release date yet.


In all honesty, "Captain America: The First Avenger" looks to be the most refreshing superhero film in years. It helps to know absoluty nothing going in. Set during WW2?! Awesome! Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci are used to great effect. I would not have thought this before, but I want to be there opening night. Also, however they did Chris Evans's transformation from scrawny peon to bufftastic hero is mind-blowingly spiffy. Get avenged July 22nd.


What a beard! "Between the Notes" is clearly inspired by the stellar Irish musical "Once." Could this be an equally superb American equivalent? I am hopeful. There probably is not as much music because it is not even listed as a musical in its genre. Still, it made me laugh and it warmed my heart and then tore it apart... and that is just the trailer. Hooray for this indie darling. Showing in art cities starting April 2nd.


I am not sure what all I just saw, but they are calling it "The Three Musketeers." I have yet to see any screen adaptation of Alexander Dumas's novel and I am not sure if I will allow this one to be the first. Notwithstanding, there are several cool moments showcased in this trailer, though I have a hunch these are every cool moment in the feature film.  "The Three Muskateers" is brought to us by a one Paul W.S. Anderson (who should not be mistaken with Paul Thomas Anderson, one of the greatest living writer/directors). He has such movies as "AVP" and "Resident Evil" to his writer/director credit, both of which had said "cool moments," but ultimately fell short. Oh yeah, it is "in 3D." In that case, you can guarantee this will be in every city on October 14th.


I tried getting into a showing of "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" at this year's Sundance Film Festival... emphasis on tried. Morgan Spurlock, the genius behind "Super Size Me" and the follow-up TV series "30 Days," has decided to tackle the touchy topic of product placement in his latest doc. How did he cover the subject? By trying to get product sponsors for the documentary! Two words: Ambitious flair. Does this compare to painting a picture of someone painting a picture? In any case, the effort must have worked because the film is officially present by Pom Wonderful. Prepare to be advertised to on April 22nd, but since it is a documentary you might not see it until much later. By the way, love the suit Mr. Spurlock.


Toss of the Week: Wow! "True Legend" looks be an answer to every fantasy-martial-arts reverie any filmmaker has ever had! It sure helps that it is directed by Yuen Woo-ping, the fight choreographer behind the likes of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, " "The Matrix," "Kill Bill," "Kung Fu Hustle," "Fearless," "The Forbidden Kingdom." I love most of those films and it is undeniable that they all feature some of the best martial arts ever put on celluloid. "True Legend" is being sold as "a heart pounding epic about the timeless battle between good and evil." As spectacular as the action and visuals are sure to be, I just hope we'll have a sterling story to tie the set pieces together. Until we know, enjoy this fabulously made preview! (I love the way they incorporated the critic praise.) Also, it is good (and a little uncanny) to see the late David Carradine make an appearance. Put May 13th on your calenders.

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ENLISTED


Lets laugh and learn from Cracked with "7 Movies That Ignored World Changing Discoveries."


A JoBlo Ten Spot: "10 Awesome Bridge Moments." On the topic, I would honorably mention "Spider-Man," "Man on Wire," and "Inception."

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THE GOOD


Pixar's next, next film (because we must first endure "Cars 2") is going to be "Brave." This is an original story (of course! - it is Pixar) about a princess with a knack for archery who sets out on a quest in the "mystical Scottish highlands." As Entertaiment Weekly's exclusive article discloses, "Brave" is a series of firsts for the world renowned studio: "first fairy tale," "first picture starring a female protagonist," and the "first film co-directed by a woman." Word on the web is that woman, Brenda Chapman, was fired from Pixar when her work failed to impress, though she wrote and formed the original story. Now she is "rumored to be working at DreamWorks" says JoBlo.com. Still, she will be listed as a co-director in the credits.

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OR THE COOL


Mike Sampson @ JoBlo was able to see a couple of scenes from the up-and-coming "Super 8" last week. He is currently hosting an "Ask Me Anything!" segment. Scroll down to the comments to see the Q&A conduct.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 23

THE TRAILER ROUND-UP


Adrien Brody has been making some interesting project choices lately (what with "Splice" and "Predators"). "Wrecked" is another one I wouldn't have seen coming. This "Memento"-esque thriller is independently made and also looks to largely be centered on one man. After recently (and finally) beholding the tour de force that is "The Pianist," I will be among the last to doubt Brody's abilities. There are a couple of shots in this trailer that hooked me up with some unintended chuckles. "Wrecked" receives a limited release come April 1st.


Folk were calling "Battle L.A." the downfall of cinema?! Now, I haven't seen that latest alien invasion flick yet, but I highly doubt it is worse than any number of comedies that have emerged over the past few years ("Date Night," I'm talking to you). As Mr. Movie Trailer Guy says, "This summer our turf is getting Smurf'd." Damn... "The Smurfs" looks heinous. My final statement may speak the loudest: I would rather watch "Yogi Bear."


Well, at least the trailer for "The Collector" is unique. We learn a little bit about this Jess character, but I'm not too sure I'm interested. Possible pass for this indy outing.


"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" is beautifully shot. Unfortunately, this trailer is marred by the narration. If ever you needed proof of the taint of Mr. Movie Trailer Guy, here it is. Let us ignore that and ponder the story of friendship through the ages at work herein. This is about two Chinese women and seems to offer a glimpse into their culture both now and in the 19th-century as lived by their ancestors.


I couldn't pick a better tag-line than "It's not always black and white" for the likes of "The Bang Bang Club." As my father often observes, life is grey. This true story follows four combat photographers in South Africa, the plentiful civil unrest is seen through the eyes (or lenses rather). Though "City of God" and "Born Into Brothels" come to mind, I can't say I have seen anything quite like this. Not for the faint of heart I'd say.


Toss of the Week: Werner Herzog is my all-time favorite director. Not once have I been bored by anything he has chosen to show me. "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" will surely follow suite. I learned about France's Chauvet Cave in my Art History class last semester. It houses the oldest manmade drawings we've yet to find (over 30,000 years old). On top of that, access into cave is restricted to say the least. Herzog as always used the camera as a paintbrush and now, for the first time, in 3D.

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ENLISTED


This is an important article courtesy of Cracked: "5 Hollywood Secrets That Explain Why So Many Movies Suck." Sure, Hollywood is responsible for some of the best films ever made, but they are also the projectors of some of the worst (especially in these days). Ultimately, the public at large is equally to blame because we keep eating the garbage they feed us. We must remember that the film industry is a business. What sales is what is made.


Another amusing insight from Cracked"8 Actors Who Look Exactly the Same on Every Movie Poster."

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THE GOOD


I love it when all I have is good film news to share:


Today production has officially begun on "The Hobbit"! Fanboys cheer! Two production stills were released of director Peter Jackson on the Bag End set (above and via the link). Check out "The Hobbit" on Facebook and the Peter Jackson page too. Read more @ /Film.


After an interview with director Matt Reeves, Total Film has revealed that "Cloverfield 2" is still a go! I found the original to be one of the most refreshing films of the decade and among the best faux-docs ever produced. Reeves's latest project, "Let Me In" was only okay and probably should have never been made. After all, it was as unnecessary remake of the Swedish gem, "Let the Right One In." Reeves stated, "Well, you are going to see it - we just don't know when." He went on to say, "J.J. Abrams is very much involved." And that's all I needed to hear. It was also shared they are working hard on the story, which impressed me.


Have you read "The Hunger Games"? Lionsgate has the film rights and we can expect the first film on March 23, 2012. I rather enjoyed the first book and it seems I will have plenty of time to read the sequels before their cinematic counterparts emerge. Last week The Wrap announced that Jennifer Lawrence was offered and accepted the lead role of Catniss. Lawrence proved her acting chops in last year's sleeper hit, "Winter's Bone." She was even nominated for an Oscar. Gary Ross, who directed "Seabiscuit," is not an obvious choice for director, but that is who's attached. All these ranging elements should make for interesting production.

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OR THE COOL*
*Nothing I deemed worth having "The Bad" or "The Weird" for this week, but why not a place for anything random yet sweet?


I have been asked a few times, "Do you know of any movies that mention the movie's title in the movie?" Well, you can hear/see 80 such cases in just 2 minutes here. Way to go honsco!

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TV TOO*
*I obviously favor film over TV shows, but the latter certainly deserves a place for plugs too. That is what TV TOO will henceforth do. For the record, I do not have any immediate plans of constructing a blog for The TV Tome. The ideal will be someday I have one website with several sections, "TV Shows" will likely be one of them.


As if all the film reboots were not enough, have you heard the 1970s television series "Wonder Woman" is also being remade? I know little to nothing about "Wonder Woman," so I do not have a lot to say. Check out the Entertainment Weekly article, the highlight being an exclusive photo of the Wonder Woman in her new get-up as played by Adrianne Palicki (who?). Interestingly enough, her new costume is more modest than the original. Whenever it is done, the pilot will premier on NBC. Also, Cary Elwes (better known as Wesley from "The Princess Bride") will be playing a role.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 22.5

THE TRAILER ROUND-UP


Trailers have never been Pixar's strongpoint. The second trailer for "Cars 2" more than proves that. The first "Cars" is widely considered Pixar's weakest link. Notwithstanding, it is much better than most of the other family-friendly offenders out there. Why they chose to do a sequel still baffles me. That said, the trailer for "Toy Story 3" also left me deeply concerned, but in the theater it proved insanely watchable and ended up being one of the year's best films. Here's hoping "Cars 2" will be the same... yeah, I don't believe it either. The world of "Cars" bewilders me! Why on Earth would they have a bidet? In any case, it is Pixar and the animation looks good. After watching this trailer watch the sneak peek for "Hawaiian Vacation"(more "Toy Story"!) the Pixar-short that will show before "Cars 2" in theaters.


"Another Harvest Moon" is a refreshing story about an elderly man who seems more than willing to throw in the towel of life. Expect many-a-conversation, reflections, and subtle character developments. Yes, this looks like a film that will bore some to tears and yet move others to tears. I hope I will be mature and cultured enough to experience the latter. Ernest Borgnine stars as Frank and the bits you see in the trailer are nothing short of great and powerful acting. "Another Harvest Moon" will be in select theaters on April 1st; the majority of us can expect to wait for a DVD/Blu-ray release.


I have yet to see a Scorsese-doc, perhaps "Public Speaking" will be my first dip into that pool. I did not know about Fran Lebowitz until I saw this trailer. I like what she has to say and I like the way she says it. I am sure that is what matters most in terms of anticipation for a doc called this and about this. The film is currently running the select theater gauntlet. Again, unless you are in NYC, LA, or Chicago, wait patiently (and maybe loudly) for a discular or downloadable release.


Toss of the Week: J.J. Abrams is one of the few people I would follow off a cliff. He has a tendency of trying his hand at existing properties or specific sub-genres and elevating them immensely. He directed "Mission: Impossible 3" and it became the best of the series. He produced an awesome monster movie in "Cloverfield" and gave Trekkies an actual reason to go to the movie theater with the latest "Star Trek."  His next summer-blockbuster seems to hearken the likes of Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "E.T." No wonder Steven is producing it. I love the fact that our protagonist is a young man who makes movies... I can relate. The new trailer for "Super 8" (coming June 10th) just might be heralding the best alien movie of a generation. At least until "Cowboys & Aliens" comes out (July 29th).

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THE GOOD


"At the Movies" is back (though now officially called "Ebert presents At the Movies") and has been since it premiered on January 21. My apologies for this belated update, it has been pretty low-key to me, at least as someone who rarely watches TV. Apparently it airs each week nationwide. In the iconic critic seats we have Christy Lemire (of Associated Press) and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky (of MUBI). While the hosts might not form as dynamic a duo as Siskel & Ebert (or even Ebert & Roeper or even Michael Phillips & A.O. Scott) they get the job done: giving each film its fair due and creating a critical discussion around it. Who knows, perhaps Lemire and Vishnevetsky will grow on me over time. On their website each episode is split into segments making for easy navigation. Lemire and Vishnevetsky (will I ever learn how to spell his name?) review several films each episode. Check out their reviews of "Rango" and "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" for samples of how this works. Another portion that seems to make an weekly appearance is "Roger's Office." Since thyroid cancer robbed the world's greatest film critic of his ability to speak, his written reviews are read by another, but the voice of Ebert still speaks out. Watch his fiery take on "Battle: Los Angeles." Yet another piece features a special guest providing an editorial on recent film-related items. Check out Jeff Greenfield discussing "Language and Film," an interesting video article touching on the likes of "The Social Network" and "The King's Speech." Heck, he even quotes the Bible at the end of his piece.


My girlfriend (Nancy) pointed this out to me weeks ago: Park Chan-Wook, the accomplished South Korean director of "The Vengeance Trilogy," shot an entire feature film ("Night Fishing") on an iPhone. Matt Singer (of IFC) discusses the film in his "iPhone Filmmaking" story from a recent episode of "Ebert Presents At the Movies." While some classical filmmakers might be rolling in their graves at such an announcement, I consider it the best kind of film news there is. Any item that makes filmmaking more accessible and simple is a plus in my tome. Sure, it strays, but hey, welcome to progress.


Ever heard of "Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair"? Said to be the fusion of "Volume 1" and "Volume 2" as one epic feature. I was not sure it existed until /Film announced that later this month it would be showing at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. Myself and myriad other QT-fanboys have been looking forward to "The Whole Bloody Affair" for years. I am shocked that it is actually happening. Hopefully a DVD/Blu-ray release will follow. 


And now, for some even more exciting news, sources are whispering that Tarantino's next film is going to be a Western! It is surely Tarantino's favorite genre (mine as well). You can see the influence (especially from Leone and Hawks) in practically all of his films and particularly in "Kill Bill: Vol. 2." It is going to be a Spaghetti Western. What's more, Christoph Waltz, who Tarantino directed to greatness (and an Oscar) in "Inglourious Basterds," will star. I for one am drooling in anticipation.

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THE BAD


Poor Guillermo del Toro... First losing the reigns to "The Hobbit" (which I am not entirely sad about since that brought Peter Jackson back onboard) and now being turned down by Universal for his big-budget adaptation of "At the Mountains of Madness." The script is based on the novel by H.P. Lovecraft, was going to star Tom Cruise, and Salon states was "about monsters in Antarctica." Apparently, del Toro's vision would certainly result in an R-rated film and Universal was not about to risk the big return they would get at the box office with a PG-13 film. Even though I have not seen most of his films, I trust del Toro based on "Pan's Labyrinth," one of the best films of the last decade, one that was also a fantasy film for mature audiences. In the mean time, del Toro might try this project elsewhere and/or head a different Universal production called "Pacific Rim." Word on the web is that film will also feature monsters. Even so, "At the Mountains of Madness" sounds magnificent and it would be a shame if we never get it.

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AND THE WEIRD


Japan has pulled Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter" and the upcoming Chinese film "Aftershock" from showing in the country's theaters after the recent disasters. "Hereafter" begins with a tsunami, "Aftershock" depicts China's Tangshan Earthquake in 1976. Both Nancy and I thought of the impressive yet horrific sequence from "Hereafter" when we saw coverage of Japan's rolling tsunami over the weekend. Examiner has the full story. You can read my review for "Hereafter" here.


There are several actors and actresses whose work I absolutely love. However, there is not a single one whose portrait I would want tattooed on my body. Some guy in Chile has the face of Julia Roberts tattooed on his torso.... oh yeah, 82 times!


More Tarantino?! QT is suing the screenwriter-next-door, Alan Ball of "American Beauty" fame, because of his "exotic birds." In his lawsuit Tarantino stated "the obnoxious pterodactyl-like screams" have "seriously disrupted [his] ability to work as a writer in his home." As ridiculous as this may sound... I completely understand. I feel my creativity being siphoned anytime unwanted sounds permeate my space. If anything is disrupting Tarantino's writing (especially if it is for this rumored Spaghetti Western), I am sure countless cinephiles are willing to go on a poaching mission for the cause. For more, check out The Hollywood Reporter doing what they do.

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KEEPIN' IT SHORT


Made by Juliet Stroud

A straightforward narrative you never knew. Made at Cal Arts, 1986.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 22

THE TRAILER ROUND-UP


We have had a teaser, a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl and now finally a full trailer! I speak of "Kung Fu Panda 2." I am a fan of the first, which featured one of the most stellar training montages in all of film, and hope this one can match if not surpass it. I think the trailer looks great, more in terms of the visuals than the film as a whole. In any case, Po asks a perplexing question, "How can kung fu stop something that stops kung fu?" We shall be able to find come May 26th.



It's true, the folks at Dreamworks thought it would be a good idea to give Puss in Boots, the metro-swash-buckling kitty voiced by Antonio Banderas from the "Shrek" sequels, his own film. It is called... "Puss in Boots." This silly teaser tells us little of the narrative, but looks to take place in a Latin setting and methinks it will be an origins story for the Zorro-like feline. The "Shrek" series ended off on a very high note with "Shrek Ever After" (although ANYTHING could be considered very high when compared with the king of tripe known as "Shrek the Third"), so I am justified in being a little hopeful.



"Legend of the Fist," starring kung fu master Donnie Yen as kung fu master Chen Zhen, will knock your shoes and socks off! Not since the exceptional likes of "Kung Fu Hustle" have I seen a stylized martial art epic set in a 20th century world that looks so sweet. While we yawn our heads off in the West with one superhero movie after another (not to mention one rebooted superhero movie after another), the East is sharpening a knife to slam in the table of contemporary action films. Hiyah!



Rainn Wilson, BKA Dwight from "The Office," stars in "Super" (I am a little envious someone officially used that title before me and in a similar way and for a similar reason that I have daydreamed), not your typical super hero film. I have yet to see last year's "Kick Ass," but this certainly harks back to its likes. After beholding the trailer I must declare my love for it: The confrontation and abandonment of cliches, the hand-drawn comic book effects and use of blunt humor all seem golden. Kevin Bacon, Liv Tyler and the Ellen Page co-star!


Toss of the Week: The namesake for "A Better Life" seems to be what the father in this film hopes his son will have compared to his own. Father-son relationships are among the most touching to me, add on the situation of a foreigner trying to make a life in America (a situation I have come to intimately learn) and you have a narrative that grips me from the get-go. The lead performances seem promising enough throughout the carefully shot sequences that lend themselves to realism. In this trailer I saw a sort of contemporary retelling of "The Bicycle Thief," a film that reaches greatness on multiple facets. "A Better Life" will hit select theaters on June 24th.

ENLSITED


Will Entertainment Weekly's list of "25 Greatest Working Directors" have you shaking your head in disbelief or nodding in agreement? Thankfully, my noggin did more of the latter. JoBlo responds.


AND THE WEIRD


The rumors are true... Lucas is bringing back "Stars Wars" with a 3D makeover, starting with "Episode 1: The Phantom Menace." It will hit theaters on February 10, 2012. I for one am not planning on being there. On one hand, it will be an interesting experiment and some will see if the conversion works, on the other hand, it seems like business as usual and audiences will surely fill the hungry pockets of some.


Not sure what I feel about a sequel to "Dumb and Dumber." If it is near as bad as the prequel looked, no thanks. Still, the Farrelly brothers seem to be for it and I must ever remember that few duo can make me laugh like Carrey and Daniels.


I thought this spoofed trailer was magnificent! I am a big fan of "The King's Speech," but must accept this as a spot of well-done fun. Great to see Tyson's acting chops in "The President's Speech."

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