Monday, September 29, 2008

Paul Newman: A short but overdue Rememberance

I found this video on YouTube. There is not enough I can say about this iconic screen legend so I decided to post a visual trubute. This was a man who could play hustlers, underdogs, drunks and rebels with a realism that most of young Hollywood is seriously lacking. On September 26, 2008, Paul Newman (old blue eyes) succumbed to a long battle with cancer surrounded by friends and family. I think those that knew him best were lucky people.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Trailer: Synedoche, New York

Most people require acid to come up with the things that Charlie Kaufman sees when he closes his eyes. It's telling that, out of his last five movies, two were nominated for Oscars ("Being John Malkovich," "Adaptation") and one took a golden man home ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"). Now, he's taking the director's chair for his first time, and I couldn't be more excited. Mixed things have come out so far; some say "Synedoche, New York" is far too depressing. However, as somebody who considers the incredibly depressing "The Weather Man" to be an unsung gem, I could care less. With Kaufman at the helm, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the lead, I don't see how this could be any less than one of the best movies of the year:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

And Now a WTF moment.

WTF? [Web Rumor]

I never thought I would be against something like this. However, I just can't see it happening. AMERICAN PYSCHO: the musical may be coming to a broadway theatre near you.

Like Dirty Dancing was not enough. American Pyscho's Patrick Bateman (played very well in the film version by Christian Bale) is probably one of the best on screen villians in movie history. And there is a voice inside of my head saying that the move from celluloid to the live stage might be good for the characters and Bret Easton Ellis's story---

But do we really want this. I mean, Sweeney Todd was written for the stage. It works.

American Pyscho (the book) reads like stereo instructions. How do you tranlate that into a live stage play, let alone a musical? Where would one begin?

The musical influence of 80s pop fueling Patrick Bateman's pyschotic excesses might be actually entertaining to see live on stage. But, if it ain't broke and its been done before, why try to fix it and do this again.

I don't know. Once again the entertainment world has me shaking my head.

Leave this movie alone. Please.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Review: Towelhead

I should've known what I was getting myself into with this movie when, before I even walked into the theater, I was given a focus group survey and asked to fill it out before and after the film. Looking at some of the questions, I was asked whether I liked Aaron Eckhart less after watching it, whether I was offended on a number of levels, and whether I would actually (they used the incredibly loaded word "actually") recommend the film to a friend. I mean, given the title and the subject matter, I knew this was going to be incisive at the very least, but this threw me way off guard.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. "Towelhead," based on the novel by Alicia Erian, is the story of Jasira Maroun (Summer Bishil), a 13-year-old Lebanese girl living in Gulf War I-era Texas. The film starts off with her mother's (Maria Bello) boyfriend shaving her pubic hair to prevent her from being made fun of at public pools. When her mother finds out, she sends Jasira to live with her traditional, stern father Rifat (Peter Macdissi). On their first morning together, she walks into the kitchen in her semi-skimpy pajamas for breakfast, and Rifat slaps her across the face and tells her to clothe herself.

Compounding the issue is her neighbor, Army reservist Mr. Vuoso (Eckhart), who hires Jasira to watch his son, for reasons none too noble. His son insults Jasira, but also exposes her to Vuoso's porn collection. As a result, Jasira accidentally discovers masturbation, and soon begins to engage in it compulsively, even wiggling back and forth rapidly in her desk chair in class. Vuoso is a slimy bastard in every sense, and this is evident from his first scene onscreen, but for Jasira, who gets called every racist name in the book at school and has no family to turn to, he's an island in a sea of pain. Soon enough, though, he causes her even more pain, both figurative and literal, and Jasira is torn between her love for the attention he shows her and absolute fear of him. Her only saving grace is her other neighbor, Melina (Toni Collette), who sniffs out what's going on almost immediately and begins to care for Jasira like a daughter, even as she's pregnant with her own.

To be sure, there isn't much stiffer material out there than the sexual awakening and exploitation of a 13-year-old girl, but it's a great credit to this film that nothing feels like exploitation. It could have easily become so in the hands of a less talented filmmaker, but Alan Ball ("American Beauty") takes Jasira's story and makes it relatable and painful. The latter goes two ways, really; not only are there some scenes that will test the audience's tolerance, but the film as a whole captures the naivete and awkwardness of adolescent sexuality so accurately that you'd be hard-pressed not to spend the entire film cringing.

What really defines this movie, though, is the phenomenal cast. I couldn't cite anyone else without starting with Bishil, who gives what should be a star-making performance as Jasira. She was eighteen when the film was shot, but looks not a day over thirteen, and it shows; she manages to be doe-eyed and radiant even as horrifying things are happening to and around her. Macdissi is stellar and enraging as her father, who does have her best interests at heart, but is too blinded by his own biases to see who the good and bad people around her truly are. I have met mothers like Bello and Collette's characters, and both actresses, always so wonderful, hit every little nuance of these women right on the head.

I have to give the most credit to Aaron Eckhart, though. A role as sickening as his (and believe me, it is sickening) takes true courage for an actor to take on. Even more fascinating is the fact that he would take on a role of this nature in such close proximity to his star-making turn in "The Dark Knight." His breakthrough performance in "In the Company of Men" was similar in sadistic nature, but this is heavy, heavy stuff, and he must be credited for making Vuoso's actions explicable, without coming off as even remotely sympathetic.

Ball has always trafficked in giving a voice to the unheard, be it the silently suffering suburban father in "American Beauty" or the oppressed vampires on his new television series "True Blood." Now, he's taken on a young girl with nowhere to turn for answers, in a time where people look right through her and see nothing but a war she doesn't even understand. Everything about this film is meant to provoke thought; I don't think it simply exists to provoke, as many critics have said, as it is handled with a class and delicacy that a movie simply meant to enrage could not have.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fear(s) of the Dark trailer

I saw some screenshots of this movie on JoBlo last night, and it truly looks creepy. Set to release in late October, this film is comprised of five short animated features all having to do with horror. Combine the awesome storytelling by some of the best contemporary graphic novelists and fluid animation, and you're going to be peeing your pants in fright. Check out the trailer HERE

Friday, September 19, 2008

Film Review: Righteous Kill (Spoiler Alert)

It was a coin toss between Deniro & Pacino or Sam Jackson in Lakeveiw Terrace. In the end Al and Bobby won.

RIGHTEOUS KILL stars Robert Deniro and Al Pacino as cops so close they almost seem like brothers. Deniro is solid as Lieutenant Turk the narrator of our story and the seemingly plausible suspect in a series of fourteen vigilante murders that are integral to this film's plot.

Turk (Deniro) is the hot head; quick to mouth off at his superiors and anyone else who pisses him off. Lieutenant Fisk aka Rooster (Al Pacino) is the water that cools him down. Rooster is Turk's anchor, his advocate and in some points his conscious trying to direct his partner to do the right thing.

As the story moves forward with Turk as main focal point we barely examine his place in the world as a New York City Cop. The story is told with blips and blurbs and extreme close ups. Even so, from the beginning we are motivated to believe that Turk (Deniro) is the good cop gone very bad. On the other hand, we have Rooster (Al Pacino), who like Turk, is a cop. Unlike Turk, he seems less frustrated with the life of a cop and more accepting of the things he cannot change. At face value, He has faith in his partner and is willing to go to bat for him when the chips are down. Rooster is methodical and calculating where Turk seems to go from his sleeve or his gut.

When murderers, rapists, drug lords, and pimps seem to fall through the cracks of the legal system, they are all later on found dead with a 4 lined poem and gun near the body. As I said before, all the loose ends seem to point at Turk whose frustrations as a cop and a man are more obvious than his guilt. I actually began to think that the killer should be given a medal or some form of absolution that comes from these crime dramas. But, that would have smoothed the true grit and taken away from the sombulant realism of this film and made it more like a film from Lifetime or the Oxygen network. In movies and in life, there is always an order; even if there is no clear right or wrong, their are always choices.

Well, in the end, a killer is revealed and it is not Turk. In movies as in life, there is a time when some things draw to a close and all is revealed. And when the shit hits the fan we see Rooster for what he is--a killer, plain and simple. Rooster is a killer who (overtime because of one mistake) lost the one great faith in his partner. It shakes him too his core and he takes the law into his own hands.

I feel like an idiot, though. I didn't see it coming. All I could keep thinking is when are they going to reveal what made Turk snap. Turk didn't snap. He never snapped. He always says whats on his mind. Never internalizes anything and shoots straight from the hip. Rooster kept his partners secret for 30 years only to try to use it against him in the end.

Rooster snapped.

I am not totally enthralled with this film, but it kept me guessing; it did entertain me.

This movie also stars Carla Gugino, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg, Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) and Brian Dennnehy. A fact not evident in any of the films trailers. Frankly I did not know Brian Dennehy was still alive and if 50 has to get shot by somebody I am glad it was Al Pacino.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Review: Tell No One

The premise of “Tell No One” sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place in either an M. Night Shyamalan film or a teen slasher flick: While out skinny dipping one night, a man’s wife is dragged into the woods, screaming. As he tries to climb out of the water, the husband is attacked and left for dead. Eight years later, he starts to receive emails from his (presumably) deceased wife. And that’s just the beginning.

A film like this is difficult to review at best, impossible at worst, in no small part due to the fact that its plot has twists within twists on top of more twists, not to mention a strange habit of doubling things (which I’ll expand on later) that leaves you wondering at times just what is going on. Despite this, I’ll try to explain it as best I can without spoiling too much. After the unfortunate demise of his wife Margot (Marie-Josée Croze, who also starred in last year’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”), Alex (François Cluzet) spends his time working as a pediatrician and trying to forget about all that happened. However, he goes to see his in-laws on the anniversary of his wife’s death every year. On the eighth anniversary, he receives an email from Margot, with a link to a world webcam that shows her alive and well.

Alex begins to question whether she is dead, or if something else is at work. This proves to be a terrible move, as the police were never entirely convinced of his innocence (If he was knocked into a lake, how and why was he found comatose on a pier?) and begin to consider whether the case might have to be reopened. When a trail of bodies starts piling up as the result (direct and indirect) of this email, all signs point to Alex, forcing him to go on the run; both figuratively and literally, as one of the film’s high points is a heart-stopping chase on foot across a crowded highway and through a city. Special note must be made of Cluzet’s performance, which he knocks out of the park in a film that would have lived or died by him; no other character has anywhere close to as much screen time.

As the tale unspools, subplots appear by the gross, involving pedophilia, a trio of torture-happy mercenaries and a street thug who takes Alex in at a pivotal moment to repay him for saving his son’s life years before. There is also the matter of doubling that I mentioned earlier, and by that I mean that many of the characters have similar names, appearances or storylines connected to them that directly reflect another. One major character is referred to under multiple pseudonyms throughout the film, and if this wasn’t hard enough to follow, the film is also in French, with English subtitles. Don’t let this minor quibble or the language barrier dissuade you, though; “Tell No One” is a nail-biting thriller of the highest order.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Netflix Movie Watching World Championship

I was making my movie news rounds for the day, when I happened upon a story regarding the Netflix Movie Watching Championships. Check this out: A glass box will be set up in Times Square from October 2nd - 7th, where participants will watch movies nonstop. The minute their eyes leave the screen, they will be eliminated. Competitors are racing to top the all-time world record of 120 hours and 23 minutes, set under these rules.

Now, you might be asking yourself questions like "How does the human body survive something like that?" or "Who in their right mind would do something like this?" The answers to those questions are, in order, I don't know and me. I fully intend to audition by putting my video on the Facebook page (at least, once I decipher this insanity that is New Facebook.) However, let's go back to that first question for a second.

How can somebody do this without a fuckload of Monster, methamphetamines or both? Sheer will power. With the proper training and lifestyle, a good 50-60 hours is very doable, and that will probably be enough to win the contest, if not the world record. Think about this: If you were to go to a movie theater for one day, from around ten in the morning until eleven at night, you've already hit over twelve hours. This contest wouldn't work for everybody, though. Only a dedicated film geek with a desire to do something this audacious and the proper training that can only come from years of spending whole weekends watching movie after movie could pull this off.

What interested me most about this contest is the thought of what movies would be shown. I doubt the participants would get to pick; if anything, one would assume that the Netflix people would throw in boring, unwatchable movies to try and break concentration. Now, and I'd love to hear my fellow writers' takes on this, if I were to try this, I'd have to be able to pick my own stuff, but there are very few things that could make me look away from the screen. Therefore, as I often do on here, two lists to that effect, to conclude today's post:

Movies I'd string together for an ungodly amount of hours:
The filmography of Kevin Smith, excluding Jersey Girl.
Anything that Judd Apatow has written, directed or produced in the past five years.
The filmography of P.T. Anderson, which alone would eat up about ten to twelve hours.
Really unnecessarily long stuff, like Lawrence of Arabia or whatever that Civil War movie was that came out when I was in 8th grade. The only thing I remember about it was that I got extra credit for seeing it.
Porn. Call me a terrible person, but if I'm in the 30-somethingth hour of this endeavor, I need something that'll wake me the fuck up.

Movies that I couldn't take:
The Hills Have Eyes remake. I couldn't watch most of it the first time, and disgust would likely win out.
Un Chien Andalou. Do me a favor. If you don't know what this is, Google it. If you do, you'll know the scene that would make me have to look away.
Even though I didn't factor in all the TV shows I could watch on DVD in the positives section, if that counted, all my mind keeps going back to is a forced marathon of The Hills. When considering that and the fact that my sleep-deprived ass would be on display in NYC, I think I just figured out what my room in hell would look like.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Series of Film Reviews in Two Sentences or Less

In the past 72 hours, I saw 7 1/2 movies. Given that I'm still hung over (yes, at 4 in the afternoon) and don't have full-length work in me, I'm going to try and review them all in two sentences or less. Ready? Break on three. One...two...DUCKS FLY TOGETHER!

(I apologize. I'm not all there today, and I'm watching the first Mighty Ducks movie on cable. Those are still the shit.)


Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Still my favorite movie of this year. Also, the Brew & View is amazing, when I disregard the fact that it totally looked like somebody came all over the seat I was in.


Burn After Reading: The Coens still have it. And by "it", I mean the ability to make a quality movie that doesn't feel like your soul has been ripped out of your body after two hours.

Bangkok Dangerous: There's a scene where Nicholas Cage kills people while a deaf-mute lady he's out with is just smiling and walking around. This is pretty much my illustration of how hilarious and terrible this movie was.

Elegy: Ben Kingsley is a phenomenal actor, and even though Penelope Cruz is naked in nearly every movie she does, it's still always a treat. This being said, this is depressing as all hell.

Righteous Kill: Ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A in what happens when talented actors sleep through a movie and collect a paycheck. The rough sex scenes with Carla Gugino were just funny, because there was absolutely no context for any of them.

The Dark Knight: So I only watched the first hour again. But dude...I think "I'm not wearing hockey pads" might be my favorite line out of any movie this year.


Tell No One: I always used to make fun of French movies, because I always saw them as boring and pretentious. After watching this, and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" last year, I would like to take this opportunity to eat my words.

Sukiyaki Western Django: This should've been cooler than it really was. And subtitled, because teaching Japanese people to speak English phonetically and with Southern accents was just not a good idea.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Trailer: CHOKE

From the author of Fight Club.

A wickedly colorful dark comedy about mothers and sons, sexual compulsion, and the sordid underbelly of colonial theme parks. Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell), a sex-addicted med-school dropout, who keeps his increasingly deranged mother, Ida (Anjelica Huston), in an expensive private medical hospital by working days as a historical reenactor at a colonial-era theme park.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I had the pleasure of watching the premiere of HBO's new vampire series True Blood starring Anna Paquin (XMEN FILMS)and I became nostalgic for vampire cinema. As a part time monster aficionado, I will admit I love the myth and lore surrounding the vampire very much.

I decided to rent two films I had yet seen that were in the vein of that horror genre.

First, I shall review 2007s I AM LEGEND starring Will Smith. I will admit I was against seeing this film because I love the Richard Matheson novel too much. I did not think that Will Smith could do the main character any justice. I was wrong.

The story opens with a news program interviewing a specialist (played by Emma Thompson) who announces a rather radical cure for cancer. The cure is a virus that has been altered to attack the cancer. What the miracle cure does is turn its hosts into sunlight abhorring flesh eating vampires, or zombies, if you will.

I realize vampires are not zombies, but this movie is based on one of the most highly noted vampire novels of our time so, I let that slide.

Anyway, Robert Neville (Will Smith) is seemingly the lone survivor of this world wide catastrophe. Alone in New York City, he fights to survive and find a cure to the virus that he is apparently immune to with his only company being a dog named Samantha.

It is a bleak and hopeless existence for Robert, but like the tag line says "The Last man on Earth is not alone." He is found by survivors Anna and Ethan while on a suicide mission to avenge the death of Samantha, his dog.

In an interesting twist, the writers of the film decided to inject the idea of faith into the story line. Anna tells Robert that God lead her to him and he retorts that there is no God. The exchange between these two characters shows us alot about what the last 3 years in isolation had done to Robert Neville. It had crippled him spiritually, emotionally, and then finally mentally. In the face a real hope and the chance to start life anew, Robert couldn't let go of the past and his duty: to stay at his post and find a cure.

By the climatic ending, where he is screaming "let me save you" at the human monsters, I shed a tear. Yes, I actually cried during a sci fi/horror movie. I guess I was so far into it, I forgot to be critical. I have to say that this movie is worth seeing again and that Will Smith (sick as I may be of him trying to save the world) is a damn fine actor who can carry a film on his own.

THE LOST BOYS: The Tribe also had a nostalgic flair for me. And no, I did not want to see this one either. Without Keifer Sutherland, I knew it just would not be the same. His performance is what I loved about the first movie. I relished his sexiness and his edge that he brought to that movie.

But, you can't always get what you want. And what I wanted was to see more of Corey Feldman and more of Corey Haim together in this film. What I got of that was two seconds. And what of the other Frog brother. Well, he is dead. or rather undead if you view the deleted scenes (alternate endings) you know what I am talking about.

Anyway, the story of the TRIBE begins with brother and sister Chris and Nicole Emerson moving to Luna Bay to start a new life after their parents die. Nicole meets and falls in love with Shane Powers (played by Angus Sutherland, Keifer's half brother). At a party, she drinks his blood. Enter Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman), vampire slayer, who informs her brother that his sister is a suck monkey and they are going to half to kill the head vampire in order to save her immortal soul.

I was not as assumed as I was with the first film. The Tribe is just not that funny. With the exception of Corey Feldman, I didn't really care about the characters that much. But I stayed for the end and it was worth it.

I won't go into the whole Freudian\psuedo sexual angles (of which there are many) of this picture. I will say I was mildly entertained. THE LOST BOYS: THE TRIBE is a nice throw back to my youth. Would I pay to see it again? Maybe.

I mean, why not. Ok, I would. I love vampires too much, not too. I just wish they had made a better picture.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ten Observations I Made While Failing To Get Into A Free Screening Of "Burn After Reading"

1. There goes my only post idea for the day. I have nothing to review.

2. Those bitches in the next line over are carrying a pizza. That's just mean, dude.

3. People keep cutting into this line. I'm making the next one faceplant, I swear to God.

4. And now an old guy's doing it. He should know better. I will take his Medicare away.

5. Maybe I can see something else if I don't get in. Perhaps "Mamma Mia!". I'd have to give up my remaining man card, though, the one that I didn't lose when I shamelessly watched "Love Actually" on a pseudo-date. It didn't work, either.

6. I hate hands-free cell phones. Especially when someone is talking to someone else who shares my name.

7. They're moving the lines....Oh, shit. Dude, we got here an hour and a half early.

8. I know for a fact that the theater this is being shown in is NOT filled to capacity. You, sir, are filled with lies!

9. They're giving out free passes for an upcoming screening of "Eagle Eye". That is hardly a consolation prize.

10. I feel like I'm getting a little abrasive over not getting my free movie. This being said, fuck AMC.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This Just IN, BATFANS . . .

According to the rumor mill both on and off the web, Michael Caine, (Alfred) let this juicy tidbit slip to a reporter:

The Riddler will be played by none other than Johnny Depp and The Penguin will be played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the next BATMAN film.

Do I want this to be true? Yes.

How did I here this? On the radio, Q101 during the long drive home. According to the Manno brothers, Michael Caine's Verbal SNAFU may be our gain.

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Best Fan Poster Ever

Okay, so this is fantastic. Granted, the Riddler being the next Batman villain is merely a rumor, especially when Chris Nolan hasn't even signed on for a third movie yet, this makes an argument for how awesome it could be. And yes, I realize this has been around for a couple weeks, I've kept forgetting to post it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New clip from Me and Orson Welles

I've been a Welles fanatic since I saw Citizen Kane my freshman year of high school. While everyone else slept in their desks, I sat up enraptured by this Kenosha native and his seductive voice. When I heard they were making a film chronicling his theater days at the Mercury while performing an all-black version of Macbeth, I was pumped. When I heard Zac Efron was going to be in it, I wasn't so much anymore. But this clip, courtesy of JoBlo, inspires some faith in me. Christian McKay isn't the Orson Welles I want, but he's ok for the part. I'm assuming it's going to be more about hottie Efron and his lurid love affair with Claire Danes. Check it out here:

Friday, September 5, 2008

Review: Man On Wire

While watching "Man On Wire", I was reminded of something said by Heath Ledger's Joker in "The Dark Knight": "I don't make plans, I just do things." This was a philosophy shared by Phillipe Petit, the Frenchman who walked a tightrope strung between the tops of the two World Trade Center towers in 1974. He amassed a motley crew of men that had never rigged tightrope before, and with only a dream and a lot of nerve on his side, they managed to break into the building.

However, "Man On Wire" isn't so much about the actual tightrope walk (though the footage and photographs of it are absolutely stunning) as it is about Petit himself. He started off as a street performer, walking between stoplights and riding a unicycle through the streets. One day, while sitting in a dentist's office, he saw a photograph announcing the construction of the Twin Towers, and decided that he was destined to conquer them.

He started off "small", walking across the towers of the Notre Dame cathedral, and those of a bridge in Sydney. As Petit's friends speak of him, you can tell that the man had one of those irresistable personalities, the kind that can make those around him do anything he wants. History has shown that people like that will use this power for evil, but Petit just wanted to pursue a dream.

The real marvel of this film, though, is Petit himself. Still alive and kicking (and walking tightrope), he narrates the craziest of all his adventures with a wild-eyed childishness about him. He talks a mile a minute, often leaping around to re-enact every aspect of this adventure. We find out that Petit plotted the break-in as meticulously as a bank heist, and when he arrived, everything went awry.

Not only is the film deeply engaging, but it's also laugh-out-loud funny at times, particularly due to the black-and-white re-enactments of their ascent to the top of the towers. At one point, Petit and an associate were trapped by a guard, leading to them lying together, entwined under a tarp for several hours, motionless. They also posed as French journalists in order to wander the roof and take photos. When this led to Petit stepping on a nail, he was overjoyed, as being incapacitated allowed him to move freely without being asked questions.

I really can't do justice to how profoundly inspiring this film is; it's one of those that really has to be seen to be believed. And yes, there are many shots of the Twin Towers, but in an era where studios are now digitally editing the towers out of old films in order to avoid upsetting people, I couldn't think of a more fitting tribute than the story of a man who spent his life in love with them.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Assorted Failures of the MPAA at Life

(The first in an occasional series.)

About an hour ago, I was scanning movie news sites for the morning updates, and I happened upon an article that, even by the highly suspect standards of the MPAA, was particularly enraging. Before you continue reading, take a look at the article here:

Now, consider the poster in that article. Yeah, it's a double entendre. Yeah, they're hinting at oral. However, first off, I had to give it more than one look to even notice the hair at the bottom. Plus, as the writer in the article said, the MPAA essentially banned this poster to protect children who wouldn't know what the hell was going on here. And if they do, honestly, there are bigger problems going on. (Brief note: I wouldn't be shocked if they did. Thanks to today's popular culture, I had to explain to my poor mother what "Superman that ho" means after my sister came home singing it.)

This is really just the latest illustration of the MPAA's ongoing crusade to teach our nation's youth that violence is okay as long as it doesn't involve any sex or nudity. Case in point: the first "Saw V" poster released had a man wearing Jigsaw's face as a mask, with visible hooks in his skin. Even better, think back to last year, when the widely released "300" poster featured men being forced off a cliff, with blood spatter all over the place. Because, you know, that's so much worse than a play on the film's title, featuring two completely clothed people.

Then again, there might be something else at work here. This might be the point where my argument starts to stretch a little, but think about this. The MPAA became notorious in the documentary "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" (if you haven't seen it, please do) when filmmaker Kirby Dick pointed out that men recieving oral sex onscreen has been deemed far more acceptable than a woman recieving it. Case in point: think of any teen sex comedy centered around guys, that got an R without much trouble. Then, look at "The Cooler" or "A History of Violence", which both featured Maria Bello getting head, and both of which struggled to get even an R rating. Now, I could do another post on how this, along with god-awful cliches relating to onscreen sex scenes in general, is basically dooming a nation of young men to be singular-minded, piss-poor lovers, but I'll try to restrain myself.

The point is, the MPAA's moral spectrum is completely out of whack. If this is really so disconcerting to them that they'd ban this from the U.S., but don't have issues with the incredibly fucking disturbing One Missed Call poster from earlier this year, something's not right.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Don La Fontaine dies at age 68, Movie Voiceover Master

I was surfing the web and saw this blurb on the ET website. Don was only 68 years old when he passed away. He is responsible for the voice overs of over 5000 film trailers, and 750,000 television spots for the past 25 years. Some good and some not so good.

He can be more recently be seen paroding himself in Geico Insurance commericals.

"Payback. This time its for real." contains more information about the man, his voice and life.

Here is more from the man. In a world, where often the trailers are the most anticipated part of the movie going experience, he will be missed.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Review: Babylon A.D.

Writing a negative review of "Babylon A.D." makes me feel like the world's biggest bully. This is due to the fact that Matthieu Kassovitz, the director, has more or less disowned his movie, claiming that Fox hijacked the production and completely destroyed his vision of the film. Word has it that somewhere between fifteen and seventy minutes of the film were cut out for the theatrical release, so that it could be distilled down to a more action-centric, marketable film. This is just another of those unfortunate cases where a director comes to Hollywood and gets sucked into the vacuum.

But, let me get to the film before I light into it any further. "Babylon" is the story of Toorop (Vin Diesel), a mercenary living in a futuristic version of the Eastern Bloc. He lives in a run-down tenement, taking work when he can, until one day, when Gorsky (an unrecognizable Gerard Depardieu) contacts Toorop with an assignment. He has to smuggle a young girl named Aurora (Melanie Thierry) into America within a week. For reasons never fully explained, Toorop is registered as a terrorist in America and cannot re-enter, but Gorsky promises him safe passage, and Toorop sees his shot at a new life. He sets out with Aurora and her protector, Sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh), only to find that more than one party has an interest in Aurora, and are willing to kill Toorop to get their hands on her.

The first half of the film is pretty interesting, at least if you enjoy films within the post-apocalypse subgenre. The trio end up fighting their way through a crowded boatyard, a debaucherous nightclub and a snowy mountain, among other areas, and along the way, Toorop begins to figure out that there is far more to Aurora than he was told about when he took the job. Up to this point, the film is fairly entertaining, though it's somewhat obvious that Kassovitz intended for this to be more in the vein of "Blade Runner", rather than a faceless action-sci-fi film.

Then, I'm not quite sure what happened at this point in the production, but without giving too much away, the film attempts to turn into "Children of Men", and absolutely rips through the logic behind this within a half hour. This is where the tampering with the final cut becomes grossly evident, as the film jumps from one major plot point to the next without any real explanation. There is a point where a major character is killed off, and the film spends, at most, five seconds on this before jumping to the next scene. The biggest plot twist of the film is introduced right before a major action sequence, and as a result, you forget until near the end of the film about it, and then the film wraps itself up with a happy ending that comes so far out of left field that when the credits roll, you'll just be left scratching your head.

The real shame here is that this film, in the right hands, could have been a great philosophical science fiction film, in the vein of "The Matrix" or the aforementioned "Children of Men." This was rendered impossible by editing that indicates Fox wanted to sell this to twelve-year-old boys with the smallest of attention spans, and the inexcusably short running time (no good science fiction film can tell its story in 89 minutes.) Instead, all we get is a failed opportunity, and a sad return to theaters for Diesel, one of the better action stars going today. If the director's cut of this film ever surfaces, I would genuinely like to see it, because there is a great movie buried in here somewhere. It just never got set free.