Archive for March, 2009

Trailerama: Det rode kapel (The Red Chapel)

March 31, 2009

The enticing premise of this documentary is that a Korean-born, Denmark-based comic duo have gotten permission to perform in North Korea. Intrigued, director Mads Brugger decides to go along for the ride. He’s smart enough to bring his camera. This is no diplomatic cultural exchange, though. Simon Jul Jorgensen and Jacob Nossell intend on criticizing the regime in the form of their vaudeville revue. Oh, and Jacob is a spastic. So far, so fascinating. Maybe even a little improbable. Then we saw that it’s produced by spazz-loving Lars von Trier’s Zentropa studio. Knowing what a prankster von Trier is, can any of this be believed? Judge for yourselves.

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Fings Ain’t What They Used to Be: Rex Reed

March 31, 2009

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A 1968 Time Magazine profile of Rex Reed–writer, star of Myra Breckinridge, Gong Show panelist and currently a New York Observer columnist. We can’t find a byline on this, subtitled “The Hazel-Eyed Hachet Man,” but let’s just say it starts out like a bit of an earthquake and gets riper from there:

“I ADORE him,” declares Melina Mercouri. “He knows how to cry.” Says Angela Lansbury: “He has antennae most people haven’t even heard of.” Others are more to the point. “If I had an affair with Jack the Ripper,” sighs Valley of the Dolls novelist Jacqueline Susann, “the offspring would be Rex Reed.”

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Alan Moore Hearts Nicolas Roeg

March 31, 2009

performanceThe latest installment of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will be released as three issues. Alan Moore explains to Ross Byrne how the story spans 100 years and draws upon: Pandora’s Box, The Black Cat, Rosemary’s Baby, The Devil Rides Out, Performance, Get Carter, Villain, The Ruling Class, and Popeye. Moore even gets to play the fanboy:

As if it wasn’t enough bragging about getting a hug from Patti Smith, as if I wasn’t insufferable enough already, just before Christmas, me and Melinda got this phone-call, to congratulate us on Lost Girls from Nic Roeg!

I was reduced to a babbling infant. He phoned up, he’d bought Lost Girls, really loved it, and wanted to congratulate me and Melinda [Gebbie] on it. I was inarticulate. I managed to babble out, “Oh, Mr. Roeg, you’re wonderful, I love you!” or something like that.

The first issue of Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century is out in April.

The Slate: Another Sucker, McConaughey Innuendo

March 31, 2009

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  • Recently the New York Observer wondered out loud why Warner Bros. was giving Zack Snyder another $100 mill to burn on his Watchmen follow-up. Now it looks like his budget for Sucker Punch might have been shaved a few nickels. The departing Amanda Seyfried (schedule conflicts!) is being replaced by Emily Browning as the lead in what’s been described as “Through the Looking Glass with child soldiers.” Let’s pause for the collective cry of “Who?” to stop echoing. She was in The Uninvited, where Roger Ebert described her as “ready for a Jane Austen role.” Whoops. (Entertainment Weekly)
  • Squally’s favorite collection of animated muscles, Matthew McConaughey, is getting back into briefs. He’s set to play Mickey Haller, a penny-ante criminal defense attorney in legal thriller based on Michael Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer. Haller gets desperate when his wealthy “franchise client” may not be as innocent of murder as he appears. How far will he go? Will it be another Time to Kill? Answers on a postcard. (Variety)
  • Tony Scott used to be your go-to guy for lesbian vampires. Then he became your go-to guy for gay flyboys. Then he became the go-to guy for lesbian bounty hunters. In-between he made movies with Denzel Washington. Now he’s keeping up the phallic symbolism and jumping trains. Scott will follow The Taking of Pelham 123 remake with Unstoppable, about an toxin-laden express headed for a CBD and Speed-like situations. If anyone can bring out the latent inversion to this tale, Scott can. (Hollywood Reporter)
  • Queen Latifah is headed back into the plus-size rom-com zone, and as fans of Last Holiday, we couldn’t be happier. In Just Wright, she’ll play a physical therapist who falls in love love with an incapacitated basketball star. (We just typed that in as “psychic-al therapist,” which would make an even more interesting pitch.) The thought of Latifah’s hands stroking someone else’s abs is a little too much for our tiny brain to handle. Particularly if the basketball player is played by Sanaa Lathan. (MTV Blog)
  • The Scarlet Letter hasn’t had the best luck at the pictures … please don’t click this. Can Emma Stone top Demi Moore? [That’s enough innuendo – Ed.] Easy A will, as the title implies, take Hawthorne’s tale and place it in a loose high school setting. The Superbad squeeze plays a girl whose alleged promiscuity leads to her being branded a slut. The big question: what teen actor could possibly essay Chillingworth? (Variety)

Star Trek Boldly Going Into Star Trek 2 Territory

March 31, 2009

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It was always a comforting feeling when the familiar credit appeared: “James Bond will return in …” Trekkie trousers have barely dried from the inclusion of an alien babe in a swimsuit in a pack of Trek trading cards when news comes that the Star Trek sequel is moving ahead for a summer 2011 release.

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David Cronenberg’s Sequelitis

March 31, 2009

david-cronenbergNaked rumbles aside, the London-set gangland thriller Eastern Promises did not exactly hurtle into the top tier of director David Cronenberg‘s work. But the newly-minted knight didn’t get to where he is by giving a damn what you think. He’s gone from turning stomachs into cassette decks to making a Robert Ludlum actioner with Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington. Good for the bank balance, sure, but not exactly challenging audience’s sensibilities much. Now the latest in his questionable career decisions is his revelation to MTV News that Eastern Promises 2 is in the works.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been in a situation where I actually want to do a sequel to something. I’ve never had the desire to do that before. But in this case, I thought we had unfinished business with those characters. I didn’t feel that we had finished with Nikolai and we had done a lot of research that was more than we could stuff into that one movie.”

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Authorexecobit: Steven Bach

March 31, 2009

Heaven’s Gate is one of those legendary Hollywood disasters that actually lives up to its reputation. Yep, it’s ambitious, telling the story of a Wyoming range war in the style of Soviet social realism. It looks like money has been thrown on the screen: writer-director Michael Cimino built a town complete with working street-car. It’s incredibly long, clocking in at nearly four hours. At times it’s inexplicable, as when half-an-hour is spend watching a Harvard graduation scene that was actually lensed in Oxford. It’s also unbearable.

Steven Bach was the United Artists studio executive who fell on his sword when Heaven’s Gate was released in 1980. Its $7.5 million budget had nearly quintupled. Cimino’s magnum opus was jeered out of theatres. Its failure led to United Artists’ collapse, and the death knell was sounded for the second golden age of Hollywood cinema. But Bach had the last laugh with 1985’s Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven’s Gate, an account which has become a textbook on how not to make a film. Bach died of cancer in Vermont last Wednesday, aged 70.

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Waiting for Hollis

March 31, 2009

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In the 1960s and 1970s, an evening of “independent” cinema (for which read avant-garde, experimental, personal, New American Cinema, and so on and so forth) could be followed by conversation, drinks while sitting on somebody’s bedsit floor, a little dope, orgies, political demonstrations or maybe a flip through the latest John Barth novel. Now one returns to the PC and struggles with how to process the experience of Hollis Frampton‘s Hapax Legomena into what passes for a post.

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Brüno: Too Sexy?

March 30, 2009

brunoThe first round in the battle between Sacha Baron Cohen and the MPAA rating board has resulted in an NC-17 rating for Brüno. The Wrap reports that the Cambridge-educated comic’s film was cited for its abundance of “sexual scenes.” Cohen’s character Brüno is a gay fashionista who enjoys flamboyantly waving his sexuality in hetero faces. Guess the MPAA didn’t like the smell. Here’s what got them steamed:

  • Brüno appears to have anal sex with another man.
  • Brüno sneaks naked into a hunter’s tent. We’re assuming “hunter’s tent” is not a euphemism.

The MPAA: men having sex with men is bad, Scary Movie is good. In the ratings board’s defense, Cohen’s comedy seems closer to the, er, bone because he inserts his fictional character into real-life situations. For example, another scene shows Brüno appearing on The Richard Bey Show, looking for a gay boyfriend to help him raise his black adopted child, O.J. The audience are unsympathetic, to say the least.

We haven’t heard the end of it. Borat went through a similar cycle of receiving an NC-17 rating and then making adjustments. Cohen is appealing the current ruling. He is also said to still be “finding the film,” meaning cutting different versions to see a) how they play with audiences looking for laughs and b) how they play with the MPAA. A spokesman said, “[T]he process is only at its inception.” A Universal exec, however, told The Wrap they would not consider putting an NC-17 Brüno into theatres.

The good news for Cohen is that all the advance controversial buzz is going to create plenty of anticipation for Brüno’s opening on July 10. Fans wanting a closer look at a “hunter’s tent” will just have to wait for the “unrated” DVD. Because while it’s bad for teenagers to watch filth for the price of a movie ticket, it’s okay to let them watch it when they pay $19.99 for the privilege.

Bashir, Wire Win Big at Cinema Eye

March 30, 2009

man-on-wirePhilippe Petit better have a few more acrobatic feats in his arsenal. He famously balanced an Oscar on his chin at the Academy Awards. The man who walked between the Twin Towers got another chance to dazzle when Man on Wire won three prizes at the Cinema Eye Awards in New York. The crowd-pleasing Wirewas recognized in the Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Film-making category, as well as production and editing. Vals Im Bashir/Waltz With Bashir doesn’t have any magic tricks, but director Ari Folmanwill no doubt be pleased that his animated documentary won four prizes, including Outstanding Achievement in Direction. The other big winners (in fact, the only other winners) included Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World and Up the Yangtze, whose director Yung Chang won Outstanding Debut Achievement. The full list after the jump.

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