Thursday, November 29, 2012

THE FILM TOME PODCAST - EPISODE 1: THERE WILL BE PODCAST


Fresh from today's big announcement, here it is boys and girls, "Episode 1: There Will Be Podcast," as promised! Trent and I decided to kick things off with a review of one of the most anticipated films of the year, "The Master," directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. (You can read my review here.) This was a perfect fit for our main discussion of the best film directors in the world today.

Please keep in mind this is the first episode. Trent and I are convinced it can only get better, and hopefully more succinct, from here on out. Onward and upward, right? I must admit, I get rather garrulous during the review of "The Master." It was painful to listen to myself. Why am I telling you this? Enjoy the show and please feel free to comment below. We would love to hear your take on any of the topics and suggestions for improvement would be mightily appreciated.

Without further ado, here is the first episode of The Film Tome Podcast! Feel free to listen to it directly from the player below or you can download it to take with you by right clicking on the "Audio MP3"  button and selecting "Save Link As...".

P.S. You can take the "Who Wrote It: Terrence Malick or Stephanie Meyer?" quiz that I threw upon Trent during the Feature Presentation segment here.





SHOW NOTES

The Film Tome Podcast - Episode 001: There Will Be Podcast
Recording Date: October 21, 2012
Running Time: 1:40:14

Segments:
(00:19) Introduction
(02:24) Trailer Round-Up: Trent: Stoker; JS: The Lone Ranger
(12:38) Recently Watched: Trent: Far From Heaven, Blow-Up; JS: Horror Marathon, In Bruges
(23:57) Hot Topic: The Hobbit
(33:24) Feature Presentation: The Guardian's 'The 23 best film directors in the world today' (Link)
(1:12:18) Review: The Master (2012)

Music:
Opening Music: Richard Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra
Review Music: Ella Fitzgerald - Get Thee Behind Me Satan, The Master Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2012)
Closing Music: Jonny Greenwood - Overtones, The Master Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2012)

Updated 11/30/12

THE FILM TOME PODCAST


In the nearly three years of The Film Tome's lifespan I am proud to announce one of the most exciting pieces of news yet: The Film Tome Podcast!

Yours truly will be teaming up with the namesake of Trentflix himself, Trent Allgood. We will be recording and posting quality episodes on a regular (weekly... fingers crossed) basis. Episode 1 and a bonus episode are already in the bag, so the hardest part (starting) is already over! This isn't happening folks, it has happened. In fact, right after this announcement article I am going to post the first episode available for streaming/download now! (Coming very soon to iTunes!)

My family and close friends know that I am a podcast junkie. I have listened to hours of podcasts each week for the last six years of my life. While most of them are about films and video games you better believe I subscribe to others too (including This American Life like the best of them). Having listened to as many as I have, and being as passionate about movies as I am, I quickly developed a desire to do a podcast of my very own. After untold hours of daydreaming an attempt here and another podcast there, it is finally a reality...

I am pretty psyched about this endeavor and hope you will continue to use The Film Tome as a resource for motion pictures and take the experience to the next level by giving the podcast a listen. Now I have someone else by my side who can elevate the cinematic conversation to another level!

Special thanks to my sister Mandy for making yet another graphic (above) for the site!

Thanks for your readership and now, I hope, for your listenership,
J.S. Lewis

Updated 11/30/12

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TRAILER ROUND-UP: HERD 90





There are several familiar Chinese faces in "The Grandmaster," Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi and Chen Chang to name three, but the story is familiar as well. Why is the great Wong Kar Wai doing a story about Ip Man (the martial arts master renowned for training Bruce Lee) when we already have a recently made acclaimed trilogy doing that already. Furthermore, why is Wong directing an action movie in the first place? It's a genre out of his wheelhouse, but the result has some beautiful compositions, but I was still uninspired by most of it. This comes out in December in China and Hong Kong, look for it next year to reach our shores.



Chinese director Cheng Xiaogang has another historical epic on his hands with "Back to 1942." Adrien Brody and a most-interesting role by Tim Robbins show up as foreigners desperate to bring relief to the drought sticken Henan province during China's war with Japan. Many of the sets are remarkable, some of the sights breathtaking, and the Japanese fighter planes... crappy CGI. Like "The Grandmasters" it will be showing in its territories before coming here, but don't expect to be able to see this in theaters anywhere but there.



Here's the second trailer for Kim Jee-Woon's first American film, "The Last Stand." Arnold returns as the sheriff of a small town ready to take on the unsuspecting drug lord that plans on cruising through. His deputies, played by Luis Guzman and Johnny Knoxville seem to balance each other out (take a wild guess who I think is more of a jackass). Nice use of a "Boom, Boom, Boom" cover and some promising action, I just hope for something half as good as some of the filmmaker's previous fair. He'll be back on January 18th, 2013.



The "Evil Dead" remake, of the Sam Raimi "classic" of the same name, has a dark and somewhat intense trailer. It utterly fails the "Cabin in the Woods" test, but you have to remember the original film came out before that was even a twinkle in Joss Whedon's eye. The original has not aged well, but is still embraced in cult circles. This faithful remake clearly hopes to cover the same ground (molesting trees and all) but with the latest and greatest in scare and gore tactics. If you're a horror buff chances are you'll want to see for yourself on April 12, 2013.



As if that wasn't enough, here is the very violent trailer for "The ABCs of Death," an anthology picture with 26 short films (one for each letter of the alphabet) from filmmakers all over the globe. It's bloody, it's bizarre, and it's probably only for horror buffs. For a small taste here is the disgustingly gruesome "T for Toilet" in its entirety. You can find this on VOD come January 31, 2013 or in select theaters on March 8th.




The much-anticipated first look at "World War Z" has landed! The opening is very impressive and we see the starts of a widespread panic during the dawn of a zombie apocalypse. Brad Pitt is desperate to protect his family only to later be called in to help "take care of" the situation. This film is a large scale project and looks so but I was pretty disappointed at the glimpses of CGI droves of zombies. It recalls "I Am Legend." Ugh. Prepare for a war, though not an entirely immersive one, on June 21, 2013.

Lick the boards for gravy McGrady, I reckon it's prime time for the Trailer Round-Up Awards!


QUEER STEER


"Christmas Eve is the scariest damn night of the year" in "Silent Night." A serial killer dresses up the Jolly Old Saint Nic during the holidays and gives people a present that Anton Chigurh would be proud of. The performances and dialogue are hokey, but it may find an audience in those hoping for a strange horror flick Look for it (or picket it) in select theaters come November 30th.



That makes for a nice segway to "Warm Bodies," which appears to break every rule of zombie lore that I know of. Our protagonist is already "undead," but that doesn't stop him from being a chatty young adult throughout the trailer's narration. To make matter more complicated he falls for one of his potential victims and this starts bringing him back to life... I don't know about that. And what's up with those walking skeletons? John Malkovich plays the zombie's potential father-in-law, but will this "clever" remodeling of the zombie phenomenon be entertaining? This one shambles into theaters on February 1, 2013, not doubt aiming for awkward date nights come Valentine's Day.

Friday, November 9, 2012

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN - REVIEW

The Amazing Spider-Man
July 3, 2012
136 min
United States (English)

Directed by Marc Webb
Written by Steve Kloves, Alvin Sargent & James Vanderbilt


Here we have another take at the Spider-Man origin story which absolutely sizzles with its romance, sometimes succeeds in superhero action, but gets snagged in its shortcomings. At its best moments the film almost lives up to its haughty name, "The Amazing Spider-Man."

I've not read nor listened to any singular review of "The Amazing Spider-Man" that did not mention the Sam Raimi directed trilogy also from this young 21st-Century. How can you not? Those are still oh-so fresh in all of our minds. They were mega blockbuster hits, extra-large sized movies on the menus of our multiplexes, each beating the opening weekend box office records of the one before it and surely responsible for this resurgence of superhero movies that currently has no end in sight. I for one had fond memories of the first and the second "Spider-Man" movies of the trilogy and even held some appreciation of the widely-despised third (revisiting all three early this year has certainly changed some of my opinions). 

I make mention of this at the onset of my analysis of "The Amazing Spider-Man" because it had a lot going against it and a lot to live up to, perhaps most of all to prove that this project was more than just a cash grab. Director Marc Webb, hot off of his Sundance hit "(500) Days of Summer," had a great responsibility, but did he have the power (a reverse of Peter Parker's situation) to make a movie that would not be overshadowed by its predecessors. You and I and the rest of filmgoers all thought it was too soon for a "reboot," though "remake" might be a better term in this instance. There's a temptation to turn this into a compare/contrast of this film and "Spider-Man" from 2002, though that would probably merit its own feature. Can one go into a film like this with a blank slate? Should you (even try)? Those are questions worth discussing, but we cannot and probably ought not forget. This is why I've not read nor listened to any singular review of "The Amazing Spider-Man" that hasn't mentioned the trilogy.

Peter Parker is played by Andrew Garfield who caught nearly everybody's eye for playing one of the many perfect pieces in "The Social Network." Orphaned at a young age he was raised by his Aunt and Uncle and it isn't until high school that he begins to un-dust mysteries of his father's scientific studies. His father worked with Dr. Curt Conners on laboratory work that combined human DNA with that of various animals in an attempt to cure illnesses and defects. A quiet moment where Conners (played by Rhys Ifans) looks in the mirror at his stump of an arm hits us over the head with why this work is important to him.

Parker ends up meeting Dr. Conners and uses a formula left from his dad to prove useful in the lab, where he just so happens to be bitten by a radioactive spider. Yes, the film has to jump through all the hoops of this origin story that we already know so well, leading up to an inciting incident ignited by what happens to Uncle Ben. You may find yourself waiting for the film to show you something new when a brief but brilliant last confrontation between Peter and his Uncle deeply resonated with me. "The Amazing Spider-Man" manipulated my emotions so easily from the fun as Peter started discovering his abilities to the anguish he feels when he has nobody to turn to for help. The story is already classic: high school nerd by day / city-saving web-slinger by by night. He's Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.

Peter is mildly dorky, but attractive enough that you could understand why there are instantaneous sparks, though enshrouded by an appropriate amount of teenage awkwardness, between him and Gwen Stacey. She is played by Emma Stone, a former up-and-comer who has now secured her foothold in the Hollywood hills. To my pleasant surprise she is hotter than ever as a blonde. I found myself raving about Garfield and Stone's chemistry after the movie and rooting for the everlastingness of their relationship (seriously, what did this movie do to me?). Later Nancy told me they were dating in real life and I smiled. On or off the screen, these two are star-crossed and irresistible together.

Girlfriend? Check. All that's needed is a super villain to give Spider-Man a challenge worthy of a feature film. Lizard is the one and only this time around (thank goodness they didn't go overboard). The first sequence with him wreaking havoc on a bridge results in Spider-man's daring and memorable rescue mission of a little boy. This and a later scene where the city returns the favor to aid Spidey's quick access to Lizard as he threatens the entire city are admittedly sappy, but worked for me. I could see both in a comic book and felt they were translated well to the screen.

Because Spider-man is conveniently all "suited up" when in character his presence is diminished to an onscreen CGI avatar during nearly all action scenes, something that Christoper Nolan for example never needs to resort to in his commendable Dark Knight trilogy. It looks fine enough but when Lizard shows up the subterfuge is practically see-through. Their romp through Peter's high-school is probably the highlight though and features one of the best Stan Lee cameos I've ever seen.

Something that was rather apparent is the way the story skips along without much consideration. It felt like there were many scenes left on the cutting room floor as the final product was already over two hours long. For "the untold story of Spider-Man" there wasn't a lot new. Furthermore, missed opportunities like Peter's photography make bewildering short appearances that amont to nothing. The film came out on DVD and Blu-ray today so now we can finally find out what was scrapped and why.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" is one of the few films of the year that I've seen twice and in 3D both times. On that note I'll quickly add that the sequences with Spidey slinging and swinging his way over New York have never been better. The underused first-person shots are exhilarating! While this re-start is not without its missteps, I had fun with "The Amazing Spider-Man," which offers a good time and a lot of heart.





★★★½

CONTENT: sequences of action and violence

Updated 11/11/11

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 90 (SPECIAL JAMES BOND ISSUE)


(Author's Note: "Skyfall" shot into theaters across the country today and so in it's honor I have compiled a special Bond issue, James Bond. To make the matter all the more fitting we are celebrating cinema's favorite special agent's 50th year in 2012. Enjoy the issue and the weekend folks!)

NEW IN THEATERS




This Week
  • Cafe De Flore* / 67%
  • Chasing Ice* / 100%
  • Citadel* / 60%
  • The Comedy* / 82%
  • Lincoln* / 93%
  • Nature Calls* / 7%
  • A Royal Affair* / 90%
  • Skyfall / 93%


Last Week

  • The Bay* / 77%
  • The Details* / 48%
  • Flight / 77%
  • Jack and Diane* / 13%
  • A Late Quartet* / 80%
  • The Man with the Iron Fists / 55%
  • This Must Be the Place / 73%
  • Wreck-It Ralph / 84%

* = limited release

NEW IN STORES


  • The Amazing Spider-Man / 73%
  • Arthur Christmas / 91%
  • The Pact / 67%
  • [REC] 3 Genesis / 40%
  • Your Sister's Sister / 84%
% from Rotten Tomatoes


* * * 


POSTER CHILD


Bruce Willis' aged face beneath the iconic phrase with it's twist at the end are all we need to know for the upcoming "Die Hard 4."



There seems to be no shortage of greatness stemming from "The Master." Yet another poster is no exception. The mirror imagery we see in this works well with the ink blot test that Phoenix's character undergoes. Some great hand-drawn portraits on display!


Finally, Park Chan-wook's "Stoker" gets a macabre wreath for its poster. Black-and-white keeps it classy while you can study the many creepy elements hanging around.

* * *

ENLISTED



Rotten Tomatoes has a James Bond countdown.



Total Film ranks the "50 Greatest Bond Posters."


Total Film counts down the fifty greatest Bond villains in honor of "Skyfall" coming out this week.



AFI Fest was this wee here in Los Angeles. Kate from Film School Rejects shared the top 5 she was looking forward to at this year's.



Are these the 50 best films on Hulu Plus? I've yet to see "The Blob" but it has NO BUSINESS appearing higher than John Ford's "Stagecoach." Please... (Source: Paste)


* * *

CAST AWAY



Michael Fassbender and Collin Firth, two of our finest actors from across the pond, are teaming up for a period piece, "Genius." Women are already lining up to see it. (Source: The Film Stage)



Daniel Craig, John Goodman, Bill Murray and Jean Dujardin (y'know, the guy who won Best Actor for his performance in "The Artist" last year) live up to the name of George Clooney's "The Monuments Men." (Source: The Film Stage)




Mark Wahlberg is confirmed to star in "Transformers 4." Well, now we have only one reason to see it. Oh, and Ted was no invited for some reason... (Source: /Film)

* * *


THE GOOD



Matt Singer of Critcwire has compiled a list of the year's best films and where you can see them, a surprising number of which are currently streaming on Netflix. This is one of the best Twitter find of my week!

* * *

THE BAD



In honor of "Skyfall" out this weekend Matt Singer discusses the worst bond films ever. I look forward to watching "Moonraker," really!


* * *

THE WEIRD



The biggest new story of the past two weeks (and probably of the year for that matter) was hands-down that Disney bought Lucasfilm for some $4 billion leading to the announcement of "Star Wars: Episode VII." They've wasted no time in getting things underway as Michael Arndt ("Toy Story 3") is officially penning the script.



Apparently "The Hobbit" is going to look pretty strange, but it's likely blazing a trailer for the future of cinema @ 48fps. (Source: Gizmodo)



Paul Thomas Anderson wants to direct a "full blown comedy"? (Source: The Film Stage)

* * *

AND THE RANDOM



Matt Singer and Jordan Hoffman discuss the best of Bond over at Screencrush.


Josh Larsen (of Filmspotting) has posted his review of "Skyfall" on Think Christian, it's a film with themes of resurrection and revenge.



Dana Stevens of Slate reviews "Skyfall."

 * * *

OR THE COOL




Eric D. Snider of Movies.com recently revisited the Bond series and has now provided an in-depth breakdown covering everything from body counts to Bond girls (sometimes there is overlap between the those two).


Going along with those stats here is a James Bond infographic for ya! And another as found on Vulture. And yet another showcasing "the Bond girls"! And yet another disclosing the many vehicles he has used over the years.



James Bond has dodged over 4,000 bullets in his film career... (Source: Gizmodo)



Here is a James Bond car montage.



In honor of "Wreck-It Ralph" Rotten Tomatoes has "Total Recall: Movies About Video Games." I've taken a particular interest in this subject lately, especially in light of my latest project, These Things We Call Video Games (shameless plug!). Look for reviews and more of such films this month on The Film Tome.



Read the first reaction to "Django Unchained." Also, the film might run something close to 3 hours! Yes, please. (Source: /Film)



Speaking of QT there's a new Tarantino box set (Blu-ray) coming out this month! (Source: Miramax)

* * *

TV TOO



"Hell on Wheels" has been renewed for a third season! I've only seen the first and thoroughly enjoyed it (Western buffs likely will) and I am happy to see it continue, though I am consistently surprised because I know few who watch it. (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

* * *

Monday, November 5, 2012

TRAILER ROUND-UP: HERD 89






"Alex Cross" hit theaters last month where it was widely ignored by audiences and largely panned by critics, in some circles it has even achieved infamous "so bad it's good status." Honestly I do not see any of that from this middling trailer. Tyler Perry stars (and doesn't direct!) as the title character, a detective you ought not mess with (or someone you "do not cross") based on the James Patterson's books. Morgan Freeman played this character in "Along Came a Spider" and "Kiss the Girls." Matthew Fox (Jack from "Lost") plays the the smooth serial killer that he's keen to catch. Some over-the-top action and dialogue seem like it could be an enjoyable thriller.



No American filmmaker has been as busy as Steven Soderbergh over the last couple of years: "Contagion," "Haywire," "Magic Mike," and now "Side Effects" are among the final films of career (apparently the HBO bio-pic "Behind the Candelabra" is his last hurrah before retiring... I seriously hope not). This is thriller about a woman (Rooney Mara) who whose prescription medication winds up messing with her mind as she in turn bewilders two men (Channing Tatum and Jude Law). After the trailer I could not really tell you more, as I am confused but still interested in seeing it come February 8, 2013.

Spit-shine the church's steeple, I reckon it's prime time for the Trailer Round-Up Awards!


SICK COW

"Movie 43" is an ensemble comedy that crosses the line again and again in its desperate attempts to get a laugh through the crudest ways imaginable. That means a lot of people will probably find this funny. The trailer warns us to cover our eyes and ears. Folks, that's probably good advice. The most shocking thing about "Movie 43" was the sheer amount of wasted talent, from Emma Stone to Hugh Jackman. It also appears to be somewhat of an anthology with different directors taking on the various stories. January 25, 2013 is a good time for trash like this to appear on the horizon.



QUEER STEER

Hey! Remember "G.I. Joe Retaliation"? Well, after it was postponed this year it is now slated for a March 29, 2013 release and there's a new trailer trying to prove it. I say "new," but this looks a lot like the last one I covered all those months ago... The Bruce Willis cameo is the best part and I have the sinking feeling that we see all this film has to offer in its trailer.


LASSO OF THE WEEK

Gael Garcia Bernal (a personal favorite) and Hani Furtsenberg play a couple who find themselves backpacking through the mountainous plains of Georgia (the country, not the state) in "The Loneliest Planet." Based on a short story by Tom Bissell, there is clearly something more than meets the observant eye going on in their relationship. Reactions are wildly split regarding this film that is apparently slow and methodical even though the trailer is fairly paced and mysterious. Look for it on DVD/Blu-ray unless you can find it in an indy theater near you.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

OCTOBER 2012: 1 MONTH, NOT QUITE 31 HORROR FILMS

Accounting


Linda Blair ain't lookin' so fair... "The Exorcist" (1973)

A month ago today I embarked on an ardent crusade to watch 31 horror films, one every day, throughout the month of October. Ladies and gentlemen, this did not happen. I got behind midway through the month and never caught up again. I ended up 10 horror films shy of my goal... In the very least I concluded as initially planned: by watching a horror classic I had heretofore never seen, "The Exorcist."

Despite my failings this was a good experience for me. It pushed me to see well over a dozen films I had never seen before and a pretty solid nonetheless. I do not think I will try to do this to myself again. It was not the horror that was the problem, it was how tired I found myself on many nights. As far as this "1 month series" (every day watch a certain film) goes, that may have ended before it even started... Who knows, maybe I will be feeling up to it again next Halloween. I do not mean to say I will not attempt another marathon again. In fact, I will begin another this month (Hint: It contains 23 films...) but I am not forcing myself to do it all in a single month. Whew.

The Severed Head Awards


The Severed Head Awards... coming soon!

Next week I am going to honor some of the horror films I watched during the marathon (in addition to posting the full line-up) in The Film Tome's first ever Severed Head Awards! It will be a very informal affair and pretty insignificant as far as awards go, but it should be a fun way to look back at the marathon as a whole and praise my favorites.

A Final Word on Reviews


Adventures in babysitting in "The House of the Devil" (2009)

Another part of my month of horror was to write reviews for each of the films I watched and even go back and cover horror films I had yet to review. This only happened for the first few (including "The House of the Devil," which kicked off my marathon), but stay posted and I will be posting in time.

Cheers.

Updated on 11/5/2012