Archive | August, 2012

Grunting at the Screen (100)

25 Aug

 

 

The information age has not yet finished with us

 

 

 

You have probably heard that Director Tony Scott died this week.

I’m not here to dwell on the circumstances of his death but acknowledge his achievements in life. He wasn’t a keen director of the fantasy genre, but his imprint on action movies is indelible. From Top Gun onwards he developed a style of intricate high gloss action that is still influential. There would be no Michael Bay without Tony Scott first. Doug Liman and Peter Berg also owe him.

Scott’s movies were not just influential but financially successful; Beverly Hills Cop II, Crimson Tide and others cemented his reputation as commercially reliable hand.

His rare entry into the fantasy genre was The Hunger, an arty and stylish cinematic artefact that awed far more to the Fashion House than the Gothic Mansion, it is a fictionalised testament to the Studio 54 years.

He was also the director of one of my favourite films True Romance.

Tony Scott, innovator and Craftsman. I hope he’s at peace.

 

 

After a considerable wait, Australia’s “The Tunnel” has finally arrived in the UK.

An investigative journalist and her news crew descend into the tunnels beneath Sidney, they find more than they were looking for.

I’m not a fan of reality horror but a few facts about this film make it stand out.

It was made very cheaply. Reportedly $36,000 Australian dollars (and I don’t know what that is real money). In fact it was completely crowd funded (even Iron Sky which was partially crowdfunded has some conventional investment). Unlike a lot of reality Horror people actually liked it. The majority of reviews are very positive.

The best thing about it is that its creators Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey want to go on to make more crowdfunded movies, the next thing is Airlock, a science fiction horror movie. Cool.

The Tunnel is now out on DVD and available cheaply in supermarkets.

 

 

Now The Tunnel isn’t one of those films with no web coverage of all, it isn’t one of those disks that pop up out of nowhere. Those have been thin on the ground, especially if you don’t want Dragons or Nazi Zombies (I wish I was joking, but there are new examples of both this month). Why do I keep diving though the nations cinematic dumpster? Hope. I know it is possible to make great science fiction on a budget. I know, because I have seen it. Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste, Pi, Tetsuo, District 9, Chronicle. You don’t need big bucks to mean a big deal.

I know most straight-to-video disks will be terrible, but one day there may be a great one and I’d hate to think I passed it up just because it had a crap cover and cost just £6.99*

 

 

Humans are not the only ones risking return from the dead. Zero Theorem- Terry Gilliam’s long mooted project- has been unexpectedly resurrected.

Because it involved Virtual Reality I’d tossed the story in my Cyberpunk folder and forgot about it back in 2009.

But here it is, grinding back into action; with Christoph Waltz as the star.

It has progressed further than I expected. It’s in pre-production and is due to shoot at the end of October 2012.

Script is by Pat Rushin.

Details are coming through from Gilliam. He describes it a funny movie shot in basically one room. The lead character is a hacker living in ruined chapel (ooh, very cyberpunk). Hme, if I’m not mistaken it sounds like it will be greenscreen movie. (A good move for a visually creative director with limited funds).

 

 

You probably thought I forgot about the new Riddick movie. No so, events have been so up and down on it , I thought it safer to wait until it was ore certain there would actually be a new Riddick movie. Well there will be.

The creative team of Vin Deisel and Dave Twoey is back.

This one harks to the first one: Pitch Black, rather than the sprawling epic that was Chronicles of Riddick, and most fans see it as a positive development. I’m rather fond of the ramshackle grandeur of Chronicles, its po-faced sincerity but also its absurd stream of invention.

In this new film Riddick has been abandoned by the Necromongers and he is now fighting for survival on a hostile planet, he contends with creatures and Mercs.

Vin Diesel is stoked about it and is confident there will be further sequels pulling the series back onto the track so we go to the Underverse and find out what exactly happened of Furia.

It is due to open in early 2013.

 

 

I have not been enthusiastic about Marvel’s plans for Guardians of the Galaxy. But there is light up ahead. Among the candidates for director is James Gunn.

Gunn is actually a minor hero of mine, having directed the Cronenberg homage; slither and the exceptional real-life superhero indie, Super.

He knows how to tell a story and what to do with actors, he also has an intimate relationship with genre story telling. No word on if he actually has got the job, but if he gets it, he may well wrestle this ungainly material into something watchable.

 

 

Mark Millar’s next will be Balls.

Despite word to the contrary Miller’s sequel comic to Kick Ass was simply called “Kick Ass 2”. However we are hearing the film version is reverting to the original plan and its subtitle will be Balls to the Wall.

Given Millar’s obsession with body parts I suggest the third part should be called “T*ts on the Glass”.

 

 

We’ve been wandering what happened to Pierre Morel, director of Banlieue 13 and Taken.  We heard he did some French TV. Well he’s back to the big screen with his next project; the Hitman’s Body Guard.

Sounds like another action movie. A protection agent accompanies a notorious assassin to The Hague so he can testify against an eastern European war Criminal. (I’m guessing it doesn’t go so smoothly.)

I’m cautiously glad for Morel, he’s the best director to emerge from the Luc Besson stable. However, II know he had bigger ambitions; he wanted to make a new version of Dune. I think he still has ambitions to make an epic science fiction movie. I feel it in his bones that like his boss, he’s got Bande Dessinee in his blood; and hope it works out for him.

 

 

Rob Liefied’s comic Bloodstrike has been optioned by Adi Shankar.

Bloodstrike comes from way back in the nineties and it’s about a covert team of superheroes, working for the US Government.

We are sure the sudden option has nothing to do with the fact that the Avengers just made enough money to sink an aircraft carrier.

 

 

Time travel films come in all varieties. We have those where we repeat the same sequence over and over (groundhog Day, Source Code, All You Need is Kill) and some where you are unmoored in time and zip randomly though your own lifetime (Slaughterhouse Five). Shuffle is of the latter sort and it’s had its first review.

Lovell Milo, keeps going to sleep and waking up at all different stages of his life, with all his memory intact. He doesn’t know what exactly is happening to him or why. A guide in the form of a young girl points him in the right direction and he finds his bizarrely lifeline is the least of his problems.

Word is this is an intelligent multilayered film that not only has a cool idea but a real focus on character. It is subtle and satisfying on levels genre films don’t usually reach.

I’ll keep my eye out for more reviews.

 

 

I don’t generally report on remakes and reboots. There isn’t a lot of point, you’ll hear about them anyway and instead I get to spend time on fresh films.

This one I’ll make an exception for.

Videodrome.

Inside I’m crying. I cannot think of many films it would be more pointless to remake. The original is a classic of horror and arguably an ancestor of cyberpunk. Its groundbreaking prosthetic effects and performances are a benchmark for cinema at the edge.

There is no percentage in remaking it. Do it well and you can only equal a beloved work. Do it badly and you’ve besmirched a masterpiece.

OK, what of this remake? The director is to be Adam Berg who’s only made commercials. Good commercials, and we’ve had lots of great films come from artistes who’ve started out in the short forms. Still, it doesn’t inspire confidence. It gets better. The screen writer is Ehren Kruger, most recently known for Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon. I’ll leave that with you.

My own copy of Videodrome is in a box somewhere and there’s more chance of me watching it again then sitting though the wondrous confection that the remake will be.

Long live the old new flesh.

 

 

Surprises all around. Despite the lacklustre performance of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo It seems The Girl Who Played with Fire will go into production. Steven Zaillian is writing the screenplay but Dave Fincher is not expected to reprise his role as director.

 

 

 

 

 

*Yeahright, even the cheap ones start at a tenner!

 

And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.

Index Page

And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video try Starburst’s review section

http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/dvd-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews

 

I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.

Grunting at the Screen (99)

14 Aug

 

 

The information age has not yet finished with us

 

 

Robert Rodriguez’s sequel to Machete has wrapped principle photography. Usually I would not bother with such an announcement but the significance is that now he is finished with Machete Kills, it means he can fulfil his promise and get to Sin City 2.

Not that I’m exactly filled with excitement. Like the first one it us to be co-directed by Frank Miller. Miller’s last movie the spirit was “visually adventurous”* let’s hope Rodriguez lends his partner the discipline he needs to make the sequel as exciting and satisfying as the original.

 

 

Once again io9 is asking “who will replace Philip K Dick as the premier author to get his books adapted”

http://io9.com/5930174/science-fiction-authors-who-could-be-hollywoods-next-philip-k-dick#13437276752942&{“type”:”iframeUpdated”,”height”:772}

Haven’t they got it through their heads yet? He cannot be replaced.

The bunch they’ve chosen this time around are not bad, but not up to the job. Any real rival will need to be prolific both in novels and short stories, a veritable story machine, a fountain of ideas (and more likely dead, the deceased interfere so much less in the film making process). I have a few ideas, yes I do.

 

 

Rumour is that talks have opened for a sequel to Prometheus. Yeah, back up there. You’re thinking “Didn’t that movie underperform and leave everyone with egg on their faces”. Well. Not exactly. At the last check the film made about three hundred million dollars. Nowhere near the amount that The Avengers or Hunger Games but it was three hundred million dollars dammit; you make that kind of cash someone will start thinking sequel… and we haven’t even started talking ancillaries like Blu-Ray and DVD Sales; that’s where the real cash is.

So far they are blaming the less than stellar reviews of the original on the writer Damon Lindelof.

So, there is a fair chance of a Prometheus follow-up. I predict a couple of things; despite the insistence that he will follow up his original gig I’ll be looking for a new director, whether Scott does the Blade Runner sequel or not, his dance card is marked for the next three years, we’ll probably get the cast back (those whose characters remain alive) the days when studios failed to lock in a cast for sequel rights are gone, oh yes, a reduced budget; now the money men have figured up just what Prometheus is worth at the box office they know better how to price it.

One other thing. If they do greenlite the sequel soon,  everything else should proceed smoothly: It’s a sequel and sequels are always easier to get going than original films.

 

 

We’ve seen some reviews of the Total Recall Reboot.

It’s the future. Most of the earth has been rendered uninhabitable due to chemical warfare. Our hero Quail lives in The Colony (Australia). Where he is a factory worker, disturbed by his dreams of adventure he goes to Rekall to get false memories  implanted. You can guess what happens next (or just rent the original movie…)

Apparently the film is one action scene after another. Not stopping for anything resembling story.

On the other hand it looks really good, with the environments represented in great and exciting detail. And there are a lot of gadgets.

 

All said, it’s supposed to be a reasonably good action movie (if you ignore the egregious scientific and technical errors.)

It was compared (badly) to Blade Runner  and Minority Report. As I suspected all talk of this being return to the original Dick Short Story “We Can Remember it for you Wholesale” is spurious, this is a straight remake of the Schwarzenegger film. What does director Len Wiseman bring to the show then? His trademark restricted palette cinematography and some pretty cool action scenes.

 

 

 What the Frunk? Bryan Singer is still wittering on about Battlestar Galactica. I honestly thought this movie project was dead, especially in the wake of the successful TV remake. (Haven’t seen it, quit shouting, I’m getting around to it). Looks like Singer is a dog with a bone here. He’s not letting go. He’s just revealed that the screenplay is almost done and he’s very happy with it.

Singer is on a hiding to nowhere here, he has to satisfy both the fans of the 1970s show and those of the 21st Century revival. It will be a hell of a job not ending up with a “Superman Returns” sized clusterfrunk.

 

 

Daniel H. Wilson goes from strength to strength, not only is his novel Robopocalypse crawling on its way to the screen, but yet another of his works has just been optioned; The Nostalgist. It was published as a short story on the Tor website. This is a far future tale of a father and his robot -son in their search for new eyes and ears.

 

 

There is a newish player on the scene, Arrow Films. They are ripping up shit here, reviving a whole raft of grindhouse classics, starting mostly with 70s Argento. But also extending to films like Streettrash. It’s not all they do, they are reviving a lot of classic cinema of the more conventional variety. Who are these guys, and what are they all about?

Well I can’t say but I’ve looked at their catalogue and it’s an impressive mix of 70s 80s trash cinema and classic arthouse fare; like what? Class of Nuke Em High, Demons 2,  Frankenhooker, Maniac Cop. Arthouse films include Bicycle Thieves and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Actually I look at this list and it looks a lot like the Tartan Video list. 

 

 

Ooh. I keep my eye on the state of Time Travel movies. I have one eye on Looper which is coming up soon,  I know there are three films named “Timeless” in development, but the Korean film Young Gun in the Time, blindsided me. Even the director Oh Young-doo, is a mystery to me. All I know is it involves a private detective and a time machine. It opens in South Korea August 30th. More news as it develops.

 

 

And finally I’ve just seen the first review for Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer. This one takes him back to his indie roots and his Brooklyn home.

The verdict; flashes of brilliance lodged in a turgid, didactic mass. Lee is too interested in lecturing to tell a story. I’ll keep my eye open for dissenting voices because I love Spike Lee, but I can believe there might be problems, we have been here before with films like Bamboozled and She Hate Me.

 

 

*Let’s be honest, it looked like Miller directed it on PCP

 

 

 

And if you want some real movie news you know what to do.

 

http://www.darkhorizons.com/

And if you want to walk the wild side of genre video try Starburst’s review section

http://www.starburstmagazine.com/reviews/dvd-and-blu-ray-home-entertainment-reviews

 

I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.