Grunting at the Screen (183)

11 Jul

The information age isn’t finished with us.

We haven’t said much about Terminator Genisys.

Coverage is ramping up ahead of its July release. The film makers seem to genuinely have wanted to make a good film, and they genuinely seem to think they have achieved it. I shall wait for the reviews, and still not go.

Why? Well I’ve seen the trailers and I am seeing a whole lot of what I’ve seen before, the film makers are not moving the story on, just grinding on the same stuff over again, on the expectation that the same thing the public wanted in the 80s and 90s they will want again. They might be right, but I am not the public.

Reviews of Terminator Genisys are out and the verdict is mixed/negative. In fact they say what I was afraid I’d hear: It is tired, outdated, and repeating what we’ve seen before only at a sluggish pace.

Another thing we’ve noticed is a lot of blogs have been trying to explain the complex time travel plot.

About a week back a friend of mine told me there is as new version of John Carpenters movie the Thing. (Less violence, some outtakes from shoot).

About the same time I read of an unseen version of Blade Runner (Not that unseen version, another one), it has some unused footage in it…

Here’s a link.

I got to thinking.

The information age is not finished with us, and it is certainly not finished with our art, any art that can be digitised (and that includes, pretty much any art) is effectively unfinished, because at any point it can be re-edited, remixed and re-released. All art is now provisional, a stage in its journey from conception to eventual obscurity. Completion is not an option: if the creator will not re-compile or re-think their vision, then a substitute can be brought in. Or a fan can remake it.

At any stage, after release to public, an artwork is affectively a collaboration between creator and audience, the creator brings their work, the audience brings their reaction and nuance, their experience; context.

But now that reaction can become concrete, something they can share (over the net, remember, the information age). Case in point: The Phantom Menace: The Phantom Edit. A version that excises Jar Jar Bincks: We have an artwork, a reaction and a nuance in downloadable form.

This is the digital version of the moustache on the Mona Lisa, write large, or rather write wide.

This is the future, expect more films to be subject to concrete critique in the form of versions telling the story the audience wanted to hear, or just thought could be told, or even were mean-spirited enough to express; a lot of it will come out of hatred as well as love. But one way or the, the future is yet unwritten, and will remain that way.

Now this is the reason we go to the less known blogs.

We saw a trailer for the Russian SF feature Mafia, a year and a half ago, from director Saric Andreassian, it looked pretty good back them and it looks even better now, there are sequences here worthy of Akira.

I am still not sure just what it is: Near Future noir? Dystopia? Who knows?

As Quiet Earth blog points out the Russians have a habit of producing genre films with great visuals but story lines a western audience cannot connect with (and not just western).

So there is no guarantee this will be good, just that it will have some great looking sequences.

It opens in January 2016.

On the heels of this is Monster Hunters, a fantasy from Hong Kong by director Ramen Hui. OK the CG is very obvious, but it is just so cute, it is like a Studio Gibli film made by and old school Wuxia director. I’d like to see this one.

And here the latest trailer for the live-action Attack on Titan. Bloody hell! I. Will. See. It.

DreamWorks is to adapt Michael Crichton’s novel Micro….Hme, don’t remember that one. Oh, his unpublished novel fragment. That should be … something. Ah, it was completed by Richard Preston and published 2011 (Still not remembering it….)

Let’s see , a bunch or young scientists get miniaturised and cast into the south American jungle: Oh I see, kind of Fantastic Voyage/Incredible Shrinking Man. (Far be in for me to say this one might have stayed in Crichton’s desk draw or trunk had he lived…)

Legendary film maker Frank Marshall is to produce.

Tom Hanks and Emma Watson will be starring in an adaptation of Dave Eggers novel “The Circle,” it’s about social media; surveillance and one company that has wrapped up the individual’s entire digital life.

Director is James Ponsoldt and principle photography begins in September.

Shut the front door. Luc Besson productions Lucy and Columbiana are both to get sequels. Surprising because Columbiana opened to an indifferent reception, a Lucy made a ton of money… but it was kind of final (Where to you go when the title character evolves beyond humanity, turns here self into pure essence and leaves the human race behind, and honest sequel would be two hours of psychedelia…) Even Besson thought it could not be followed up.

No details on either one.

I’m having misgivings about Harbinger Down. Oh shoot, I haven’t mentioned it before.

Basically it is an old school body horror feature directed by Alec Gillis (Who has done the FX on some of the most classic sf and horror movies including most of the alien movies.

It is partially crowd funded and stars Lance Henriksen. Its unique selling point is that it used traditional prosthetic FX. This is not as much of a credit as it might seem.

In the past two or three years digital FX have improved to the point that, at the highest level they are indistinguishable to in-camera FX.

I you are now doing a prosthetic FX film, it has to be something special.

Harbinger Down openly pays homage to films like The Thing and Alien.

Graff, a fishing boat captain, takes a bunch of student climatologists to the baring sea where they pull a frozen body out of the ice and thaw it out.

You can imagine mayhem ensures.

My misgivings come from the fact that one of the world’s top FX supervisors is making a film referencing one of the finest prosthetic FX features ever made c.f.: The Thing.

What I mean is that he should not go anywhere near this unless he is certain he can outdo Rob Botin. There is no real point to go over this theme unless you can make the audiences eyes pop.

And I am not sure anyone can do it.

Anyway, you will all find out soon; Harbinger Down will open in cinemas and on VOD August 7 for a short US run before it hits disk on September 1.

We heard about the science Fiction film Advantageous, but didn’t get excited about its premise. However it has been garnering some praise.

In the future more jobs have been eliminated, women have been driven out of the workplace, director is Jennifer Phang.

Gwen Koh works as the face of the Centre for Advanced Health and Living. However she is getting older and fears unemployment so she undergoes a risky experimental procedure. One that will take one consciousness and implant it in another one’s body.

It is now available on Netflix.

This is the latest in a run of Body swap features. We shall keep an eye on reviews to see if it is really as exceptional as rumoured.

Reviews for Shane Abbess’ Infinite are coming in. The verdict is mixed. It seems its greatest strength is its weakness: it certainly has authentic 1980s practical effects look to it, and even the negative ones praise the production design and cinematography. But they all compare it to classic films of the genre, and it suffers in comparison.

So if you want an old-school science fiction/horror, but accept there may not be much in the way of originality. Then this may be the one for you.]

It is a great pity that this year has already seen a ground-breaking feature on sentient robots because the first review for Uncanny is quite positive; it is described as clever, harrowing and efficiently directed. And the use of a male robot puts clear water between it and that other robot movie Ex Machina.

Coming out of nowhere is Astraea; this is the kind of film I have mentioned, a post-holocaust feature depending on character and performance more than action and special effects.

After a plague wipes out most of North America Astraea and her half-brother Matthew take a long trip from west coast USA to northern Canada. They encounter a survivor family along the way, and tensions ensue.

Directed by Kristjan Thor, and starring Nerea Duhart and Scotty Crowe, it has been completed but we have no release date as of yet.

I’ve just heard about Listening, a Science Fiction feature by Khalil Sullins: Two grad students develop mind-reading technology, of course they attract attention from these who want to abuse it.

The feature has been completed and it seems to be a low budget, independent production.

It has been compared to Primer and I Origin.

So far there is very little information on what kind of release if any, it is getting.

French director Claire Denis and British author Zadie Smith have teamed up to make an “untitled drama set in space. ” details are not forthcoming but they promise it will be original and innovative.

FrightFest 2015 has released its line-up.

Among the many films are:

Turbo Kid, the post holocaust tribute to eighties trash cinema.

JERUZALEM, the Israeli apocalyptic feature

and STUNG, the giant wasp movie

FrightFest opens 27 August

Self/less opens soon. Now we have not said much about this feature for one reason; it is directed by Tarsem Singh. This director is a major visualist, but I have seen a couple of his features and I don’t think he can carry a story.

Anyway. Selfless is the biggest budget of the current body-swap features.

Ryan Reynolds is a young and healthy man into which the dying billionaire, Ben Kingsley.

It opens on July 17th

Reviews for Eli Roth’s Knock Knock are overwhelmingly positive, it seems he has has matured (a little), he has re-invented the erotic thriller and he can make a film without gore.

Ant Man.

Marvel Studios is on a roll. It has delivered hit after hit. It is in the position Pixar was in a few years back. But the question is; is Ant Man a bridge too far?

There are some questions surrounding it, primarily the departure of its first director Edgar Wright.

And there is also the firmer, more corporate hand Disney have been taking with Marvel Studios, does “the little studio that could” still have a separate identity?

Despite the rabid attention of fans Ant Man is not a hugely well know character and, for the general audience the premise might by just a little too absurd.

The question is, can Marvel go big, by going small?

Avengers has opened huge. It is riding high and Marvel is riding with it. Anyone who had doubts about Marvel’s brand name pull should be thinking again.

I would bet good money that Ant Man will open big and make good bank, at least as much as Guardians of the Galaxy last year.

But one day a Marvel Movie will tank.

This is not a prediction it is a statement of fact, no film studio in history has had every movie hit it out of the park.

It will probably be part of a whole trend away from Superhero movies: the day when a Batman or Iron Man movie can make a billion and a half dollars will come to an end.

What will happen on that day?

At first glance it looks like a disaster, Marvel’s entire game is superheroes, and this can only lead to rapid decline.

Well probably, but not necessarily.

Before Marvel Comics was Marvel Comics it was Timely Comics… and they published everything: War comics, adventure comics, Westerns and even romances. Really.

And I am guessing that many of those characters and stories are still in the ownership of Marvel.

Even since then Marvel has done work outside of the superhero field: The ‘Nam ran for several years.

The death of the superhero movie could provide Marvel with an excuse to diversify and show it is a real studio.

And it could happen, they have always been the ones who do it differently and take risks. Who knows, we might get a WW2 Howling Commandos TV show…

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

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


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