Posts Tagged ‘Watchmen’

DVD Debut: Watchmen, Coraline

July 21, 2009

CoralineIt’s big, blue and balls out. It’s DVD Debut on VH1.com.

Coraline is the work of another comic book maverick gone legit. Neil Gaiman is best known for his work on The Sandman. This stop-motion ‘toon turns his award-winning kids book into the darkest fable since Pinocchio. Blue-haired Coraline is bored with the rainy Northwest and her neglectful parents. A hole in the wall takes her to the family she’s always dreamed of having. As usual, what one wishes for is not what one really wants. A gripping tale filled out with great characters and lyrical flights of animated fancy.

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Atlas Shrugged Gets Serious

April 1, 2009

atlas-shruggedThe Stock Market’s down. Temperatures are rising. Activists are taking to the streets to burn effigies of both bankers and politicians. The time seems right for Hollywood to cash in on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The Hollywood Reporter claims the long-gestating film is switching to development’s fast lane, with Charlize Theron the most likely candidate to play lady boss Dagny Taggart.

Producer Karen Baldwin, who has been helping to shepherd the project for Lionsgate, told the Reporter, “This couldn’t be more timely. It’s uncanny what Rand was able to predict — about the only things she didn’t anticipate are cell phones and the Internet.” With the government moving in on AIG and firing the head of GM, it’s not surprising that many are seeing Rand’s work in a fresh light. One can easily imagine this book being in Peter Chernin’s or Harvey Weinstein’s Kindle. It better be. At 1100 pages, the book is big enough to kill a small animal–and probably has.

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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)

Critical Bitchslap: A.O. Scott vs. Richard Brody

March 24, 2009

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Imagine a war between the New York Times and the New Yorker, and you might think of Walter Burns tossing inkpots at the effete Eustace Tilly. In fact, it appears to be the other way around. A.O. Scott’s elegant consideration of a certain type of American Neo-Realism has been blasted via a pugnacious blog post from Richard Brody. After an initial exchange of fire, both returned for another salvo. The various broadsides can be read here, here, here and here. But for those who would just prefer to fall asleep without moving their mouse, here’s Squally’s scorecard.

It all started when A.O. Scott, as is his wont, looked over a series of forthcoming films and attempted to write a serviceable trend piece colored with his usual thoughtful commentary. In the best New York Sunday Magazine style, he explained to readers something they presumably hadn’t noticed before and gave them a bit of a back scratch as well. That “something” was the adaptation of Neo-realist techniques by filmmakers like Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart) and Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy), occasioned by the release of Bahrani’s Goodbye Solo, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden‘s Sugar and So Yong Kim‘s Treeless Mountain in the next few weeks.

These films, he wrote, represented “an urge to escape from escapism,” an alternative to films like Watchmen, Knowing, and whatever else they’re condemned to watch in Greeley, Colorado. Each has several features in common with the classics of the postwar Italian Neo-realist movement, films such as Roma, citta aperta/Open City, La Terra Trema/The Earth Trembles and Ladri di biciclette/Bicycle Thieves. They are made during a time of economic and political upheaval. They use non-professionals in fictional roles that are close to their real selves. They are filmed on location and make use of “unadorned, specific” locales (Rome, Winston-Salem, N.C., a mountain village in South Korea). They emphasize work–whether as a profession, at home, or in the school. Although Italian Neo-realism passed mainstream American cinema by, these films look to foreign movies and are intent in showing the “American life that remains off screen.” While subdued in nature, these films can be ultimately inspiring in how they portray strength/resilience in the face of adversity.

All seems innocuous enough. But not so for Brody the firebrand blogger at New Yorker’s Front Row. In a numbered list and with a shaky criteria that recalls the manner of his New Wave heroes (Brody has written the acclaimed Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard), Brody swings at the Old Grey Lady’s oracle … and swings wildly.
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The Slate: Reese Plays Ball, Amanda Doesn’t

March 24, 2009

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  • Reese Witherspoon let slip some info on the latest James L. Brooks film. She will play a “professional softball player” who is fought over by a white-collar executive and a pro ballplayer, who will be played by Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson (although not necessarily respectively!). Witherspoon said the improv-friendly writer/director had been working on the film “for about two years now and one day we’ll start filming!” Bill Murray is also due to make an appearance. (WENN)
  • To lose one actress is unfortunate. To lose two looks like carelessness. So far, Sucker Punch is just unfortunate. Amanda Seyfried, she of Mamma Mia! “fame,” has decided there are better places to be then Zack Snyder’s “Alice in Wonderland with machine guns.” “Schedule conflicts” are being blamed, but maybe Seyfried got a whiff of Malin Ackerman’s Watchmen perf and decided Snyder’s feminine touch was best avoided. (Entertainment Weekly)
  • Multi-hyphenate Andy Garcia unveiled his latest dream project Hemingway & Fuentes by noting that Anthony Hopkins was “loosely attached” to star as Ernest Hemingway. The film would look at the last years of the writer’s life and his relationship with Cuban fishing boat cap’n Gregorio Fuentes. Also navigating the ocean of booze mightbe Annette Bening as Hemingway’s wife, Mary. Garcia will co-write and direct. (Hollywood Reporter)
  • In a small act of decency, Twilight sequel New Moon has staffed its Wolf Pack entirely with Native Americans. Smouldering alongside the Pattinson/Stewart axis will be Chaske Spencer, Bronson Pelletier, Alex Meraz, Kiowa Gordon and Tyson Houseman. The actors are of Lakota, Cree-Metis, Purepecha, Hulapai and Cree descent. Somewhere Jay Silverheels (Mohawk) is smiling. (Stepheniemeyer.com)
  • Bryan Singer (X-2) has spent the week getting his ducks in a row. First it was reported that he was thinking of making a “hot revenge thriller project” with Mark Wahlberg. Now Fox has purchased the rights to comic book Freedom Formula: Ghost of the Wasteland. The futuristic graphic novel has jet-packs, genetic engineering and what sounds like a Matrix-style transformation of the world. Singer is producing and could direct. (EW/Variety)

Hollywood 1, DVD 0

March 23, 2009

dvdHere’s all the news that fit to print: The DVD market is in the tank. Blockbuster is currently growing at a snails pace. And all the studios hate Netflix. So the New York Times is reporting that the studios are going back to what they think they know best: making films that will actually turn a profit at the box office.

Brooks Barnes aligns the statistics. Ticket sales are up 14% for 2009. (Watchmen not withstanding.) Sales for new-release DVDs, on the other hand, are down 40%. The reasons are myriad: a movie is still considered a cheap night out, there are simply too many DVDs out there (Howard the Duck just hit stores, accompanied by the sound of a barrel being scraped) and most of youse is downloading films from t’Internet. The result: studios have lost that retail safety net, or what one producer calls the “downside protection.”

iron-man1The new strategy is getting bums on seats, which may account for the absolute traffic jam of big tentpoles being released in 2010. Among them are Tim Burton‘s Alice in Wonderland, Jon Favreau‘s Iron Man 2, Christopher Nolan‘s Inception, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Toy Story 3, Eclipse, Thor, Green Lantern and a Harry Potter installment. As of this reckoning, we’ll see . Barnes also elegantly sums up the bigger picture:

“In addition to big “tent pole” blockbusters, that means movies that are fun to watch in groups: at least 10 musicals are in full-steam-ahead development, including a remake of “My Fair Lady.” And it means more pictures that are pre-branded: “Monopoly” and “Candy Land,” the movies, are on the way. Most of all, it means a strong return by major studios to middle-of-the-road, genre pictures.”

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Watchmen Writer Loses Mind in Public

March 18, 2009

watchmen2The excellent Occasional Superheroine blog takes apart Watchmen scribe David Hayter’s open letter to the fans. Hayter doesn’t so much use an analogy which is ill-advised as somewhere out where the buses don’t run:

“All this time, you’ve been waiting for a director who was going to hit you in the face with this story. To just crack you in the jaw, and then bend you over the pool table with this story. […]

You say you don’t like it. You say you’ve got issues. I get it.

And yet… You’ll be thinking about this film, down the road. It’ll nag at you. How it was rough and beautiful. How it went where it wanted to go, and you just hung on. How it was thoughtful and hateful and bleak and hilarious. And for Jackie Earle Haley.

Trust me. You’ll come back, eventually. Just like Sally*.”

You just don’t get anything like that with an Ozu movie! Seriously, does this kind of thing go on in 2009? I can’t figure out if Hayter is seriously disturbed, seriously misjudging the Watchmen fan-base, shamelessly catering to the Watchmen fan-base, and whether he actually even read Watchmen before he wrote “EXT. ECU ON SMILEY FACE BADGE.”

Of course, given that Payter is writing for Zack “This is Sparta” Snyder, perhaps we shouldn’t surprised that this boy’s club has a few issues with women, sex, violence, and violation. Amen to OS:

“This guy couldn’t carry Alan Moore’s jockstrap.”

It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

*A Watchmen character who is raped by The Comedian and then does something that would require a spoiler alert.

Watchmen Post Mortem

March 10, 2009

watchmen1Now that the weekend is over and we’ve had a chance to try and wash this glowing blue paint off (ammonia?), the accountants are sifting through the $55 million that Watchmen has taken in. Everybody else is trying to read the film’s future in the entrails. The quick take is that even that many sheckles is still considered a disappointment.

Why? Well, the movie opened up with a massive publicity blitz on a whopping 3600 screens. And there literally wasn’t anything else to watch that weekend. (Even the Los Bros Jonas movie tumbled 80%). Plus, there is the fear that any audience for an adaptation of the 1985 Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel will have seen it on Friday and, sated, will be waiting for the upcoming DVD release, the rumored four-hour cut, and the opportunity to sit around naked in their glowing blue paint in the comfort of their own home. Did Alan Moore’s curse work? Will heads roll at Warner Bros.? The pundits have their say after the jump.

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Watchmen Metaphor/Simile Watch

March 5, 2009
  • Peter Martin, Cinematical: “It’s like someone decided the alphabet was too long: most of the consonants are still there, but Watchmen is missing a couple of vowels. … Some of the actors sound as though they’re delivering their lines for the first time, reading off cue cards. … Doctor Manhattan’s big blue penis, dangling like a participle with no tomorrow. … On its own, the movie is an efficient adrenaline delivery machine, occasionally taking flight and occasionally sputtering, but most often just motoring down a long road with colorful scenery to pass the time.”
  • J. Hoberman, Village Voice: “A mutated atomic scientist who glows like blue kryptonite … The Comedian is a cigar chomping a-hole … who at his height claimed to embody the American Dream … humping like porn stars … For all its superficial fidelity, Snyder’s movie stands Moore’s novel on its head, trying to reconstruct a conventional blockbuster out of those empty capes and scattered shards.”

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