Monday, April 30, 2012

Quick Takes: "The Pirates!", "Pandorum", "Up", "Drive"

"The Pirates! Band of Misfits"
Directed by Peter Lord

Believe it or not, there are requisites for an entertaining stop-motion animated offering, the main one being that it has to have a purpose for all its inane musings. "Wallace and Gromit" has been silly as all hell, but it's always found an organic explanation for existence. That's something that "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" lacks, is that through all the weird and zany misadventures of this crew, they never feel gleeful. They simply feel like they're there for the sake of the jokes, which often aren't all that amusing. The villain hates pirates because... she hates pirates. And the best thing about being a pirate is... Ham Night, apparently. The art of claymation gives it a slight leg up in the joy factor, but is it too much to go beyond the true bare minimum of narrative investment?

Directed by Christian Alvart

You may be wondering, what reason did I have for seeing this at all? Well, sometimes it's just there, and fact of the matter is that this is exactly the type of film my father raised me and my brother on. Sci-Fi Horror with no real purpose than to shock, which it really doesn't. We have all the requisite factors. The Earth is a non-factor, dead by now with nobody missing it. The attractive guy who survives with the attractive girl. The zombies, which they may not be since they're just suffering from space mutation, but they're zombies for all we care. They act the same as can be expected. And we have somebody who isn't who we think they are, and we can't say we honestly care either. Except this time, we kind of do a bit, but that's only thanks to a rare strong performance from Dennis Quaid. I was surprised by how effective his work was, but beyond that, this is a lot of the same gruesome nothingness that fails to enthrall much at all.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Box Office Report: The Pre-"Avengers" Slump

This weekend was wise to stock up on as many releases as possible for the weekend before "The Avengers" inevitably shatters records domestically as it has been in foreign markets. Anything that would have gone up against it would be overlooked, and everybody seems to be saving their breath for next weekend. That left audiences split rather decisively, so it's a rather encouraging note that this weekend did as well as it did. While it may be a far cry from last year, when "Fast Five" smashed April records for the box office, it's much better than the frame from two years ago, which was normal goings given the season.

"Think Like a Man" continued its short-lived supremacy at the top, taking a nearly 50% fall like pretty much every other film this weekend, except "The Hunger Games". That filmed continued its climb to $400 million, and is likely to get there just under the wire. As for the new releases, "The Pirates!" was the surprise winner, though how much of a surprise is that really? It's a kids flick, and they're the crowd most prone to flock irrationally to theaters. "The Five-Year Engagement" was the only other film to nearly match it, and that one got its benefits from the rom-com crowd, which is the second reliable faction in this weekend.

Friday, April 27, 2012

TOP 10 SHOTS from "Vicky Christina Barcelona"

Welcome to "Top 10 Shots", our weekly spot to talk about some of the most beautiful, or else daring, shots of cinema present and past, and be alerted of SPOILERS. I wouldn't want to spoil the beauty of a film. We're back in place on Fridays, after a two week displacement due to "extraneous circumstances", but we're in full force now. There is nothing stopping us now, and this week is something of a departure from the norm, not least of which because this isn't the most attachable film to this week's release of "The Five-Week Engagement", a film which I quite honestly don't have as much enthusiasm for as I once did. I love Jason Segel, but this quite simply looks too attached to stereotypes than taking advantage of them. We all know Segel can do drama, but this just looks like no fun at all.

Transcending that, this week's film was originally going to be "The Muppets", but on further thought, not only is that film somewhat difficult to dissect, but it may even be better left for a different occasion. The film we have is connected loosely through the mutual cinematographer, Javier Aguirresarobe, whose work isn't exactly spectacular, but I felt this would at least be a fun excuse to get back to seeing "Vicky Christina Barcelona". It may have been hard for me to say if I liked "Midnight in Paris" better than this one a few months back, but on revisiting, Allen is in much greater form here, as well as less overtly inquisitive in his musings.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Films to see in 2012: May

Despite the "getting back into the swing of things" vibe that May always seems to give off, isn't it just great to be heading back into the big season? With a large budget offering being thrown our way nearly every week this summer, odds are in favor of some of them hitting their mark. In some cases that mark is far below the standards of others, and mindfully so. The first two weeks are taken up chiefly by highly anticipated offerings, but also a couple of indie films with buzz of their own. I must say, part of me is rather interested to see "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" for the fun of it. Clearly not a serious offering, but when was the last good comedy about old people?

The following week, Toronto's audience favorite "Where Do We Go From Here?" hits, but I'm still confounded by that one. I don't really know what to make of it, and it's only on the radar from the faint possibility that people will swoon to it. I doubt that'll happen, seeing as it didn't even make the Foreign Language branch this past year. As far as larger offerings with less chance of hitting the mark, boy there are plenty. "Battleship" has already gotten the below-average reviews we've expected it would, though I may still see it for Rihanna. That's right! I stick by my girls! "Obsession" 4 evar!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pixar titles "The Good Dinosaur" & "Dia de los Muertos"

Pixar prepping for one hell of a delicious period of rehabilitation after "Cars 2" proved that the perennial animation studio of our time can not only do wrong, but do very wrong. This year has them releasing "Brave", their first female protagonist feature as well as their 13th film, and this fall they're bringing back the instant classic adventure "Finding Nemo" in 3D. Of all the ill-needed 3D modifications, this is the one I am most absolutely pleased and excited to see. Next year they have primed up a 3D conversion of "Monster's Inc." to coincide with the release of the much anticipated prequel, "Monster's University". My fingers are crossed that they have a story worth telling on their hands there.

So let's start with the bad news, shall we? Pete Doctor has proven his worth with the company both through the previously stated "Monster's Inc.", as well as with the heartbreaking traditional adventure of "Up". His next film, still untitled, is supposed to take us where we've never been before: inside the mind of a young girl. "Inception" for the Pixar gang? Yep, sounds a lot like it. Well that project hasn't exactly been put on hold, but it's been pushed back a year to 2015 to free up space for their other previously untitled film. I might be in a position to be unhappy if the other film didn't have just as delicious a subject as Pete Doctor's film.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

THE LISTS: Ranking Claire Denis

In case you've been wondering about where the grand scope of my film oriented focus has been for the past couple months, I have honestly been caught up in other things involving rigorous schoolwork. Somehow this semester has been drain, though I don't wish to burden you with the boorish details. Let's just say, my heart has been torn up through stresses of extreme panic. On the one end, I've been completely unwilling to give myself to a production assignment requiring a hefty sum of money towards 16 mm film, along with all the acquaintances necessary to make a film go off without a hitch. At a stage when college itself is proving a drain, this has been an unnecessary extra weight.

On the other hand, I've also been immersed in one of the most amazing class experiences I've had in my two years here, which has done quite a bit towards convincing me that critical studies is where it's at, rather than production. The past couple of months have given me a much desired crash course in the cinema of Claire Denis, whom I had become simply acquainted with last year via Netflix. How taken with her was I before? Well, I've owned the Criterion DVD of "White Material" since my last birthday, so I suppose that's something. But I had admittedly only seen that and "35 Shots of Rum" before the class I had on her this semester.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Box Office Report: April gets "Lucky"

WAVERING QUETION: Why aren't people in love happy?
Can somebody do me a kindness and explain to me how this weekend turned out to be so ridiculously successful at the box office? I did not believe for a second that films with as little buzz and interest as "Think Like a Man" and "The Lucky One" would end up with the colossal debuts they did, especially after more obvious smashes like "American Reunion", "Wrath of the Titans", and "Titanic 3D" seemed to wash up to some degree. Don't get me wrong, since they're still earning quite the honest intake, with "Reunion" having been made on a small profit, "Titans" pulling in a profit overseas, and "Titanic" having already tripled its budget some time ago.

Needless to say it was a weekend for underdogs, with Tim Story's black (as in the colour) comedy "Think Like a Man" becoming the surprise hit of the weekend. My guess is it found a niche in the Tyler Perry crowd of viewers, and ran with it quite well. And who could possibly be surprised that a bunch of girls flocked to theaters to check out Zac Efron in yet another Nicolas Sparks adaptation. At this point, what tween actor hasn't had the Nicolas Sparks treatment? I think we're waiting on Taylor Swift to grab one up, and I admit that if she did that, I might actually see it. Why? Because I'm an idiot who loves Taylor Swift, so back off keep reading.

TOP 10 SHOTS from "Martha Marcy May Marlene"

Apologies for the two day delay, but I deeply had my work cut out for myself when I took on this week's Top 10 Shots piece, mostly because I had to figure out something appropriate for the week, despite "Bombay Beach" being unavailable for relation to "Mayley", another documentary of exceptional cinematography. That fell through, so I thought long and hard on what to branch out to, and there's really nothing out this weekend that even connects to something of strong enough quality for dissection. So I turned my gaze towards something outside the realm of theatrical cinema, and instead went towards the world of television for guidance, as many of us often do.

You may already have heard about "Girls", Lena Dunham's television debut after having success with "Tiny Furniture" on the indie market. I felt somewhat compelled to seek out "Tiny Furniture" itself, but it apparently takes time to get Criterion DVDs shipped out to the local library. Who knew? That might have been the end of it, but the cinematographer on both Dunham's series and film had another prolific cinematography venture this past year in the form of "Martha Marcy May Marlene", directed by Sean Durkin. So if you haven't seen the film, I caution SPOILERS TO ALERT, since I will be getting into details about the film following the jump. In other words, GET THE FUCK OUT THERE AND SEE IT!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Fringe" Review: "Letters of Transit"

When "Fringe" gets around to the tailend of their season, they often like to go for an eccentric ride on their nineteenth episode. In season 2 we had the totally fictitious noir-musical marijuana dream of "Brown Betty". In season 3, we were taken inside Olivia's William Bell infested mind on an animated adventure. Season 4 certainly had its work cut out for it, but the writers have instead decided to do something immensely trippy, yet not quite with the happy jib of previous 19th installments. Why? Because at no point in this episode, beginning or end, do they confirm or deny that the future world we are seeing is avoidable, like the one we saw in "The Day We Died".

That episode quite obviously had a lot more rewarding factors, while this one was an immense tease, and I applaud the writers to no end for perpetrating it. What we're shown is a contained world riddled with teasers about things that have yet to come in the current timeline of the story. It's quite a risk, letting us know that David Robert Jones clearly didn't succeed so much as he hoped. One could stand to reason it reliefs all the tension of the current apocalyptic situation in the year 2012 to show that we made it to 2036. But they luckily put in a crucial detail in this episode, that it wasn't without paying a cost that they saved the world.

Friday, April 20, 2012

OSCAR 2012: Weinstein spreads options wide

I don't really know if it's at all wise to predict nominations so hastily ahead of the game. I usually refrain from doing it even when we get far enough into the game, but I want to be hands on the coverage of this year's awards season. For once, I don't want to miss a beat, like I felt no issue in doing last year. It was a very dull season, and this year promises to change up the formula to some degree. I'll admit that I'm quite pleased with that, since Oscar has been kinder in the past to some of the more challenging directors debuting flicks this year. Take Paul Thomas Anderson for example, who made a film called "There Will Be Blood" a few years back that seemed utterly too dark for the Academy, but it made the cut anyway on sheer ingenuity.

Anderson is back this year with "The Master", a project five years in the making that reaches us this fall. I must admit a high degree of excitement, mostly surrounding the project's mystery. For so long we didn't even really believe it was called "The Master". It was just Paul Thomas Anderson's 1940s religion project, but even that arouses all kinds of fun debate. It's one of plenty major films the Weinstein Company is opening towards the close of the year, also including Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained". Tarantino has been off for quite some time, not in terms of making films, but making great films. Since "Kill Bill Vol. 1", the guy's skewed a little over-indulgently.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dry Months of April

It's hard to peg down a single month that is the most depressive slog of the year, but I'd make a strong case for April. Sure, January is an immediate drop off from the rush of quality cinema that greets the close of the year, and February is little better, but both of those have the positive bump of Oscar season on the skirts to divert attention away from sparse new cinematic offerings. March often has plentiful blockbuster offerings, even if some fail to live up to the stature of others. And we know that May through to December is often full of exceptional fare to some degree. April is four weeks of padding, and even if there are good films out there, they're not exactly bombastic.

Maybe it's that we're so close to big entertainment that small offerings just don't seem to have their place. "Titanic 3D" even seems to have a small nature surrounding it, as unlikely as that sounds. If you see the film, you know that James Cameron packs in quite an exceptional amount of scale, so why isn't that more of a draw? I'm not entirely sure, but nothing in me has much reason to want to see it on the big screen. It might just be a matter of time and place, and April is not a month you really want to head out for massive adventure. Quite often, and this is not just the case for students, it's a time of getting heavy loads of work done.

Quick Takes: "Cabin in the Woods", "Girls", "A Prophet"

"The Cabin in the Woods"
Directed by Drew Goddard

My thoughts on the much hyped "Cabin in the Woods" are difficult to state, not because I'm afraid of giving away spoilers. It's because the subject of spoilers has been so completely marring any reviews. If we're not even allowed to talk about the basic plot of the film, what's the point? A bunch of old corporate geezers send a bunch of high school teens into a death trap to pretty much reenact your typical horror films. If that's the master spoiler, what the hell am I spoiling? That's in the very first 15 minutes of the film. I wish I'd even known that before heading in to the film. It's nice to have some inclination of plot.

But how's the film? Not quite worthy of all the hype that everyone seems to allot it. Is it quite clever in its more humorous statements. Yes, and it gives the films a spontaneity that all the serious talk of spoilers attempts to deprive the film of. This isn't a masterful film, or something worth protecting. The surprises aren't based on plot, but on visual zing. Richard Jenkins' and Bradley Whitford's regular exchanges throughout the film give the horror backdrop such a lively nature to it. And when the third act festival of carnage begins, boy oh boy is it ridiculous fun. A few days ago, after I first saw the film, I had a less than soulful tune to things, and gave the film a C+ via twitter. Now? I think it's a keen and fun play on the genre, and deserves not to be raised to a standard it couldn't possibly live up to.

CANNES 2012: Lineup announcement scales down

Is anybody else severely interested in how US-centric this year's Cannes lineup is? I say "severe" as an deplorable statement, since I'm usually quite captivated with the Cannes lineup when it goes for films that haven't been even close to my radar. As your knowledge of the world grows, surprises do seem to dwindle. That's not to say I'm completely down on the Cannes lineup this year, and in fact, I'm quite pumped for many of the films brought forth. Any year we get the latest from Jacques Audiard, Michael Haneke, David Cronenberg, Andrew Dominik, and Abbas Kiarostami is an exceptional year on those bases alone.

"Rust and Bone", "Cosmopolis", and "Like Someone in Love" have already gotten the ball rolling with trailers up for the Audiard, Cronenberg, and Kiarostami films, respectively. If you were to ask me which film I'm most interested to see, it's got to be Haneke's "Amour". Such a title to pair up with that guy is going to arouse suspicion, but mostly just arouse. Beyond that, there's Walter Salles' "On the Road", which I must honestly say I have little interest in. Kristen Stewart is an unbearable actress, and I try to avoid seeing anything with her wandering across the screen with an absolutely clueless expression on her face.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

TOP 10 SHOTS from "The Insider"

My apologies for not being so quick on the draw for this week's post, since it does take a considerable amount of time to go through a moderately lengthed film twice. Heading up on one whose length is particularly substantial is understandably quite an ordeal to take up, particularly since it wasn't the film I had planned on taking on this week. Originally I believed that I would be taking apart "Serenity", Joss Whedon's feature directorial debut, in accordance with this week's release of "Cabin in the Woods". I decided instead to go for something a little more appropriate for what's been going on in the world this week.

Michael Mann's 1999 thriller "The Insider" obviously doesn't pair up with any of this week's releases, unless there's some "Three Stooges" cameo I don't know about. It does however match up with Sunday's news of the death of journalist Mike Wallace, whose character was portrayed by Christopher Plummer in Michael Mann's flick. Quite obviously, I never planned to focus specifically on Wallace's character, however brilliantly portrayed he may be. As a matter of fact, he's most deeply signified in just one shot of my list. I knew, as always, I had to be a great deal more than just a focus device on faces.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The "Catching Fire" Director Scramble

Okay, so I no longer feel incredibly isolated in my belief that "The Hunger Games" was just terrible, as Kris Tapley seems to clearly agree with me. But ignoring my detest of the film, I nevertheless remain solid at the post of interest in whoever ends up chosen to direct the high profile sequel, "Catching Fire". Why? Because I quite simply have to believe that a direct can swoop in and bring back the franchise from the edge of chaos. Personally, my dream list was narrowed down to three, and seeing as Stanley Kubrick is dead, that one certainly isn't about to come to fruition. Given the three act structure of the books, Kubrick would have been an ace at the handle.

The other two are about as far from being chosen as Kubrick, with the top being Lynne Ramsay. Given her breathtaking character work on "Morvern Callar" and "We Need to Talk About Kevin", one can only assume she'd expose the psychological crevices of Katniss' post-games mentality. The other one, and the one I still hope against hope is chosen, is Tarsem Singh. Coming off of two of the most ridiculous films of the past couple months, yet also two of the most cinematically soaring, the man would take whatever is given to him in the script and make it soar. I haven't a doubt in my mind on that, but the fact of the matter is, the search has already narrowed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Rust and Bone" French Trailer

High on the mark of films I am much anticipating on the horizon of this year is Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone", starring Marion Cotillard. The actress alone is enough to give me clear indication of quality, but it's Audiard who is the clear draw in my book. Having only seen "A Prophet" from 2009 and none of his previous works, my knowledge of him is sparse at best, but that's something I hope to remedy well in advance of seeing his latest. I'm not about to waltz into another filmmaker's latest endeavor with an incomplete knowledge of their history. Such things are for the birds. In any case, I'm very interested to see what he's got in store this time, and it'll clearly be more than just light entertainment.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quick Takes: "Wrath of the Titans", "Single Man", "Serenity"

"Wrath of the Titans"
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

We didn't need a "Clash of the Titans" remake. We didn't want a "Clash of the Titans" remake sequel. We got both, but in the latter's case, things aren't so bad as they might have been. Go ahead and beseige it for all its idiotic dialogue and dishevelment of Greek mythology, but "Wrath of the Titans" was a damn bit of fun. Obviously we still don't care about Sam Worthington, or the subsequent son he bequeathed. What do we care about? Crazy creature battles, Edgar Ramirez as the unappreciated Ares, Rosamund Pike giving a great deal of spunk to proceedings, and Ralph Fiennes just being amazing as per usual. It's cool. Nothing special, or worth putting your neck out for. Hell, it's really stupid. But I wasn't out for blood this time.

"A Single Man"
Directed by Tom Ford

I'm taking a sociology class on consumption, and until I revisited this film, I didn't really know what I wanted to write my final paper on. Obviously this isn't the sperm of consumerist culture, but positional consumption and experiential consumption do play an at least dissectable role. But my viewing didn't come out of search for a proper film for class. It came out of deep heartache to be reunited with one of the sweetest, most gorgeous, and subtly heartbreaking films of the past couple years. Colin Firth had much deeper emotional waters to traverse in "A Single Man" than he did with the lackluster and irritating "The King's Speech".

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Box Office Report: "Hunger" Leads to Starvation

Keep doing your thing "Hunger Games", because it's going to be a long month once your magic has drifted to a state of normality. Not to say this month has no promise whatsoever. On the contrary, there are enough decent releases throughout the month to make up for the drought that's existed below the top five at the box office. I'm sick of typing in digits below $1 million, and even sicker of talking about "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen"s kinda/sorta "success". In any case, it's tough to look at this weekend's stats and not see a bit of disappointment. After all, there's been strong enough success in the 3D market to assume that something like "Titanic" would be able to thrive. I guess it's just not THAT beloved.

And I guess people don't really care about the dumb revival of a dumb film series that went away for a good reason. Don't expect "American Reunion" to stick around for good measure. Their disappointment evokes a strong enough boost for last week's somewhat honest debuts. "Wrath of the Titans" fell a good deal as expected, but it's already tracking much better than "John Carter" did. "Mirror Mirror" didn't take much of a tumble at all, and it seems that there's been some kind of positive audience reaction on the part of that film. Hopefully it'll end with some solid enough wages. "21 Jump Street" seems to be reaching the point of winding down, but it'll make it's way to $125 million pretty well. Oh yeah, and "The Hunger Games" did stabilize to a degree, and should make its way past $350 million, but not much higher.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Fringe" Review: "Everything In Its Right Place"

Last season of "Fringe" was undeniably about the roles of destiny and choice, and while the predestined is a looming inevitability still in the form of the Observer's ominous warning to Olivia, there's still a great deal about the power of choice. If last season was about the choices that people make leading them to different destinies, this season is about why we make those choices. Lincoln breaking all the rules in 4.01 to avenge his partner. John McClennan in 4.02 risking his life to change the fate of his doppelganger. Raymond Green in 4.06 risking the continuity of the world to be back with the one he loves. The role their fathers played both the Astrids in 4.11.

Peter, Walter, and Olivia are tabled very early on in the episode. Nothing important is happening, and the main team have places to be with the people they love. This brings us around to Lincoln, who lost his partner, found a new one in Olivia, only to have his space finally be taken up by Peter again. He has no role in the world, and Robert Danzig's post-mortem elegy about Lincoln floating off into space seems like such a heartbreaking possibility. He wants a time to escape the isolation he feels, and so he travels to the other side for a customary debrief of the situation with David Robert Jones. But like any circumstance, this problem is intruding on an issue that already exists.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Weekend Rundown: Blast from the Unnecessary Past

This weekend isn't exactly a weekend to be storming out to the theaters, as I have on numerous occasions asked myself precisely what was coming out. In truth, nothing new is coming to wide release. What you'd be paying to see is either a rehash of stupid things you've already seen, or quite literally what you've already seen. As I was watching "Pina" on Tuesday evening, I was reminded constantly how much I wished I could have seen it in 3D glory, but was glad I still took it in theatrically. And then I thought about my feelings towards "Titanic" and asked the question, "Is it worth seeing in 3D"? The answer I came to was that it wasn't worth seeing in 2D, let alone in theaters. It's not profusely horrible, but it's just simple. Not bad, just nothing special.

That goes even more so for "American Pie", which indeed is less than nothing special, and I wouldn't allow myself to be paid to see any of those films. "American Reunion" honestly doesn't just seem pointless, but... oh, fine. That word sums it up perfectly. It's absolutely pointless, aside from the fact that they'll make money from people who want to see these characters again... doing the exact same thing they were doing before. My heart aches, because I know "Damsels in Distress" is out there in limited release, and if people knew about it more, they'd easily choose that over this dreck. But I'll settle with seeing "Shame" again. Never a bad night.

TOP 10 SHOTS from "Antichrist"

Sometimes all it takes for me to link a film for this column is an actor in an a film being obscurely released this weekend, who also happens to be in another obscure film that I'm certain you at least have heard of. Lars von Trier has been thrown under the bus on many occasions, in my opinion rather unfairly. The man's frequent embarrassment towards the public has not downsized my opinions of his work, and in fact enhances how sure I am of his vision. The man stated once that he was "the best director in the world". I can't say I can entirely disagree to his statement, especially considering the confidence he displays in pretty much all his films. You can't say the man doesn't know what he's doing, or that his finished products are fractured entities.

Indeed "Antichrist" is quite likely the easiest film of his to toss aside vehemently as angry and self-indulgent trash, but not a single part of me believes that for a second. I've seen the film now from both the perspective of total fear and seriousness towards his personal connection to the film, and from a point of pure horror genre panache. The guy has undeniable style, which ekes through even in the simplest of shots, and the film is one aggressive, disgustingly gorgeous visual after another, none without its own visceral weight to it. I must factor this as some kind of masterpiece, and in any case it makes for an ideal choice for this column. And I have to mention Anthony Dod Mantle, the cinematographer on the film who must inevitably seem overshadowed by von Trier. His presence is just as noticed, if not quite as acknowledge.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wong Kar-Wai's 'The Grandmasters' not ready for Cannes

The announcement of the competitors at this year's Cannes Film Festival doesn't seem so far off now, unless you consider two weeks to be a seismic gap. It's my experience that time more often moves too quickly than we want, so it'll be here soon enough, I'm certain. No matter the length, guesswork has already abounded as to which films will make the cut, with it being pretty much a certainty of Abbas Kiarostami's "Like Someone in Love", David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis", and Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone" making prolific debuts, optimistically to favorable impressions. Mind you, I try not to get to wrapped up in others' opinions, but they're usually a good map to flock to.

Of all the guesses, you can factor Wong Kar-Wai's "The Grandmasters" out, since the film will still be in production when the festival is underway. The film may very likely not even be prepped for the fall season. I'd personally count this one out as a possibility for this year, and I'd instead slot it as a likelihood for the 2013 slate. After all this time, we can hope that it will have been worth the wait. I can't imagine a man would spend that long a time working on something for it to prove to be not even well thought-through.


I had a feeling that there would inevitably be at least one film bound for my end of year list that simply did not make it in under the wire, and soon after faded from my attention before kicking me in the ass later on. I did not at all expect that film to be "Pina", Germany's entry last year for Best Foreign Language Film which instead found an in through the Documentary field. Though that genre specification may technically be true, spiritually the film exceeds the confines of documentary. The talking heads format that the film seemingly starts up with doesn't quite hold the initial disdain I began the film with, and instead exceeds to become something beyond simple narration.

Based on the works of contemporary dance choreographer Pina Bausch, though clearly much more than simply that. The film wouldn't amount to much if it were merely a talking heads doc about how great Pina was, or even just an assemblage of four of her most well known dances. Fact of the matter is, as stated before, this isn't a documentary. Neither would I call it inherently narrative, but more of loose formed letter in poetic form. It's difficult venturing into deep quandaries on the film without spoiling so much of its symbolic impact, but needless to say that it's not just about Pina. In an explicit fashion, I suppose you could read it as such, but implicitly the film just as reciprocal to us.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"To Rome with Love" Trailer

I'm always under the assumption that a Woody Allen film isn't going to be that great, which is an assumption that usually proves correct. I'm speaking of these days, obviously, since he usually has one hit per two or three misses. In that schema, I'll always consider "Vicky Christina Barcelona" far better than "Midnight in Paris", though his last film was undeniably a hilarious romp worth taking. I'm not so certain about "To Rome with Love", which has already been deflated by two name changes from the more witty "Nero Fiddled" and the even wittier "The Bod Decameron". Based on the ensemble nature of the package, I think we're in for an average exploration of a city, not full hearted in its attention to characters as his last film.

Television Recap: "Mad Men", "Game of Thrones", "Fringe"

I now feel comfortable in once more sharing my thoughts on the latest happenings in television with you guys! This is mostly due to the return of two shows that most deserve review: "Mad Men" and "Game of Thrones". I already launched my sparse opinions on the former's two hour season premiere, and it seemed like too much of a tease not to delve even further into my obsession with the guesswork and continued passion involving this unique form of entertainment. And it would of course be nice to get back home to a place of talking about "Fringe", whose prospects for a final season 15-episode pickup are looking unexpectedly bright. It's a win in all corners. Well, not all corners. "The Killing" is still on the air.

"Mad Men: Tea Leaves"
Directed by Jon Hamm

Oh Betty, what has this world done to you? It seems that when most television actresses become pregnant, they factor that quite literally into the show. Leave it to a genius like Matthew Weiner to not cop to that and instead go for something more dynamic to Betty's character: She's let herself go. It's an eerie move that strikes me like a dagger, since it seems so natural for her to eventually become that sort of overweight mother. It's the start of a story arc that will prove quintessential to her character, I'm certain already. Though it is admittedly an overt move for the show, but it pays off broadly, and not quite so dishonestly. The cancer scare is somewhat too much of a push, even if it does strike a desire for death in Betty.

"Rise of the Guardians" Trailer

This year is seeming somewhat indecisive in terms of its animated offerings. Not that I'm not interested in what's to come, and in fact there are quite a few, "Rise of the Guardians" included, that I am very much looking forward to. I'm just not entirely certain on exactly how strong they will turn out to be, or if they'll prove to fall flat instead. I certainly hope not, and even on paper "Rise of the Guardians" is an interesting idea. The legendary holiday characters teaming up to face the villain is predictable to a degree, but is Dreamworks ever anything but such? They've done wonderfully entertaining things on their formula, and it ultimately depends on if they can make the character dynamics work. It can't just be a team fighting and defeating somebody. It has to be more than that, and I hope they find the right balance.

Monday, April 2, 2012

"Total Recall" Trailer

I have reasons to be excited this summer, and this most certainly isn't one of them. Never mind the fact that "Total Recall" isn't a film one would necessarily want to update, but it's a film that exists fine as it was. I'm not going to call for parades exalting it as pure cinematic greatness, but the original "Total Recall" is in the pantheon of hilarious Schwarzenegger science fiction. Remove the Schwarzenegger and it just doesn't seem quite so appealing. Nothing against Colin Farrell, as I love the guy regardless, but this isn't meant to be a serious movie, and I only place coins against it for also starring Bryan Cranston. The guy's amazing, but him appearing in cinema is kind of a bad omen at this point. I can't remember a film he's appeared in this past year that I liked. I don't expect I'll float much attention that film's way, but you tell me if I'm wrong.

"Ted" Restricted Trailer

Seth MacFarlane seems like he would inherently make an excellent writer of comedic cinema, but there's no way in hell I'm about to rely entirely on that as my official statement. When the creator of "Family Guy" goes about making a film, you're going to be questionable. When said film is an dark comedy about a profanity spewing teddy bear, you're going to think it sounds awesome. That's the perspective I'm coming from on "Ted". I'm not entirely sure if this film will be able to work on a cinematic level, if it will really use its concept well without leaning on it, or if it will just be your typical stoner comedy. I've heard positive things about the trailer, so I suppose I'll keep my head up. Take a look for yourself!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Box Office Update: "Hunger" Devours "Wrath" & "Mirror"

This weekend continued the trend of behemoths dominating senselessly due to unearned enthusiasm while the real gems are still acknowledged, though not nearly as much. I wasn't happy with "The Hunger Games", so the impact of its gargantuan debut had me shrugging with an extreme sense of banality. Though the film did take a massive tumble this weekend, but that's to be expected from such an outstanding opening figure. The film is working on its crawl towards $350-$400 million by the end of its run, though where it lands in that schema depends largely on how it fares next weekend. If nothing else, the film is giving an uncustomary boost to a usually banal box office frame.

And the rest of what's currently filling up the market isn't faring too terribly, if not particularly as excellent. "Wrath of the Titans" opened second to nearly half of what its predecessor opened to. Granted there has been a lot of well earned hatred surrounding that film that this one has been attempting to redeem, so it does have a fight ahead of it, especially if it wants to make back its $150 million budget. Admittedly, that's an easier target to achieve than "John Carter" had against it. "Mirror Mirror" too isn't quite raking in the children it expected to, and everyone else just isn't giving notice to it. It largely depends on buzz, and if the small faction of people who adored it are able to spark enough interest in it.

Academy Announces "Mirror Mirror" as Preemptive Champion!

On Friday, it seemed like the world united in a display of profound anger and hatred for Tarsem Singh's fairy tale revisioning of the classic tale of Snow White, "Mirror Mirror". It was immediately condemned as nothing more than a manipulative kids film that throws hideous visuals at children, desperate to come off as cool. Obviously, given my own perspective on the film, I do not agree with the haters. I believe the film finds small, yet broad, strokes to paint over the familiar story in a way that rings as significant for the world it is releasing onto today, as well as sneaking in some unexpected and hilarious jokes along the way. I still profess confusion as to why nobody speaks of the film's magnificently tucked-in rape joke.

It appears that the Academy agrees with me entirely, if perhaps they have taken things a bit too far this time. In a stunning show of passion and confidence, the 85th Annual Academy Awards have announced a preemptive winner for the grand majority of the categories, and that winner is "Mirror Mirror". Taking the prizes for Best Picture, Director (Tarsem Singh), Actress (Julia Roberts), Actor (Armie Hammer), Supporting Actress (Lily Collins), Supporting Actor (Nathan Lane), Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Art Direction, Cinematography, Makeup, Costume Design (A well deserving Eiko Ishioka), Film Editing, Visual Effects, and controversially Best Animated Feature. A whopping record of 17 wins!