Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Bleeding Cool

I'm now the TV and films editor for Bleeding Cool. It used to be a comics only site, but not any longer. Come over and boost the film contingent.


Thanks to the film ick e-mail subscribers for your continued support, wherever I go. Bleeding Cool's Film & TV section is very much my baby, so please do whatever you can to lend a hand over there.

Monday, February 15, 2010

If You Aren't Happy That I Don't Like Scorsese...

...ask yourself why.


I'm somewhat bemused that it's a group of people who think taste in films comes down to just that - taste and nothing more - that seem to be the angriest when I express an opinion on cinema that they don't like. If you think my dislike of Scorsese's movies is just taste, then why should you care? Different strokes and so on, eh?

But I don't personally believe it's just a matter of taste. Indeed, I think there are a good number of objective criteria for the discussion of a piece of film craft. I'm looking forward to a future where evidence based objectivity is applied to film discussion at least as much as it is to music by musicologists. In fact, I think a scientific discussion of film craft is long over due.

It's almost 100 years since Lev Kuleshov carried out his experiments. They are probably the most famous of all attempts to look into the nature of film spectatorship clinically, but they're far from the last. While 'the Kuleshov effect' has become well known, even by film students in the most frilly, silly of film schools, the findings of thousands of other clinical, well founded studies go essentially undiscussed.

It's because of the rock solid evidence and finding of these very many studies that I'm quite, quite sure there's a more rational debate about film construction to be had. From my understanding of much of this research comes my skepticism towards the baroque, anything-goes jazzed-up, show-off cinema of many of the more celebrate 'auteurs'.

There are rules to cinema. They don't tell filmmakers what to do - because who could really? - but they do go some way to explaining how audiences react, en masse, to certain elements of film language, specific decisions of filmmakers, juxtapositions and combinations of formal film specification. Through understanding of these rules, the filmmaker becomes a better communicator, more accomplished in filling their media with the meanings they intend.

I've had a lot of hate-talk and angry words thrown at me today because I don't like a series of well-considered films. What my critics are not even beginning to consider is that I have any rhyme or reason, supposing that I dislike these films upon some kind of whim. I think I'd have more of an argument to claim they instead like these films on nothing but a fancy.

Of course, if you like a film on a fancy, that's fine. I wouldn't criticise that in a million years - but I would criticise if you pretended a hollow lie that there was more of a basis to your affection for the movie. Why be dishonest? Isn't "I like it" good enough? Of course it is. We should no more have to defend our preferences and biases to one another than agree on them in the first place.

There's any number of films I like that I could not defend as a piece of high-calibre filmmaking. There's not many films I don't like that I would consider a great accomplishment of film craft, however - simply because something I really like, myself, is finding a film that seems to be pretty well put together in terms of these "rules" I was mentioning.

If you think artists should be free to do whatever they want, just throw caution to the wind and doodle, let rip, outpour or explode unthinkingly... then so do I. Of course, I don't think an artists just doing this is going to guarantee them a result that communicates effectively.

There's a time coming when we'll also discuss films in terms of how they relate to the spectator in well-researched, clinically tested psychological terms. So far, this has been the province of the psychology researcher, but the world cinema will come to learn the benefits of being fully versed in the nature of film and film spectatorship. It seems quite perverse that it isn't already, don't you think? That there's all of this study and learning and deconstruction of cinema going on in absolute terms - from studies of eye tracking or the effects of different kinds of cutting on memory, say, or the uncovering of how far and in what way the influence of a piece of soundtrack music can tracked - and it isn't at the heart of our discussion of film?

So, I'm sorry I don't have the same taste in film as you. I'm not sure why it makes you so angry. But please don't think I'm just basing my ideas on nothing.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

So, What Do You Reckon?

Is my work at /Film as good as the stuff I was doing here at film ick? Mail me and let me know.

I've been drawing some negative comments over there... as well as some very positive ones.

The future of film ick is to be unveiled this week - something rather different than you know from before, but hopefully better. Wait for it. And then tell me what you think of that too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's Slashfilm

If you haven't found me at Slashfilm yet, here's a direct link to my work there so far, to the post that introduced me, and to the site overall.

Come and support me there. And stay tuned here for the evolution of film ick into something... well, you'll see.

Thanks!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Big News Day

Well, for me anyway. And I hope it works out very well for you too.

Expect to see me on the contributors roll of a big, well-read and rather nifty film website today.

Yep - it is one of the big ones. Yep - you most probably read it already. Yep - I'm going to be doing what I used to do over here but doing it over there now. Nope - I don't mean Forces of Geek, though I will still have Union Jacked there. Yep - you should start scouring the big sites in about.... oh.... eight hours after I post this? Maybe? Ish?

If you don't find me, I'll be back here in 24 hours or so to tell you exactly where to look.

And... er... though this sounds like the death knell for film ick, it really isn't.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Scorcher Clunker

During the Golden Globes back-slapping last night, Scorsese apparently claimed that Steven Spielberg "reinvented cinema with each new picture".

Jesus.

By the way, I have been blogging LOTS over on ForcesOfGeek... but have other very exciting things to report sometime soon. Keep tuned.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Mark of BC

Here's a handy link to my first couple of posts at Forces of Geek. I'm just sorta-kinda testing the water out over there. Indeed, that link will show you just the bits of Geek that I write, now and from here on out. Not that I'm suggesting you bookmark it or anything. Of course not.

I'll be back posting here before you know it.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Forces of Geek

As of Thursday, I'll be publishing a weekly column over at Forces of Geek. My column will be called Union Jacked and, once it's there, I'll include a link here to help you find it.

Below you can see the official invitation to the site launch proper - which takes place tomorrow.

There are numerous other Geeks lining up to put their own Force behind the project - and it isn't all movie stuff, though, yes, most of it is.

I can't say too much about my first column but here are a few teasers:

- Why won't James Cameron be too pleased with one Superbowl spot in particular this year?

- How like The Hitchhiker's Guide is too like The Hitchhiker's Guide?

- Where my sympathies lie in the Fox/Warners/Watchmen shebang - and you'll probably be surprised by the case I'll make. Or not. But it makes sense.

- A little bit about The Dark Knight and Slumdog Millionaire and why, frankly, they are amongst the worst films of the last year. And I will back that up, I swear.

- How one of the most successful movie franchises in recent years might be getting a severe kicking as a result of Frank Miller's inadequacy - but also how salvation might come in the shape of 3D cinema.

Or, alternatively, that might all be old news by Thursday so I might have a completely different raft of stories. Like Panorama, eh? As the content of this column is topical, it may be changing close to publication.

I'll still be keeping film ick alive here because... er... well. Plans are afoot. But, all the same, I want to see you over at Forces of Geek dot Com.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Better The Devil You Don't

Hugh Jackman has pulled out of talks to appear in Stephen Soderbergh's Cleo. The film, if it ever happens, is to be a 3D musical, set in the US in the 1920s, based upon the story of Cleopatra and with songs by Guide by Voices. How exciting does that sound?

Why has Jackman done this? Scheduling conflicts, apparently. And the word on the street (well, currently just in the sewers, really) is that Jackman will instead by appearing in another musical - not a film, but on Broadway. He seems to have negotiated himself the lead role in Andre Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera Part 2.

Now, Soderbergh has no history with musicals and Lloyd Webber has much. The "better the devil you know" philosophy would suggest Jackman has done the right thing here, but I'm inclined to not agree.

That argument is daft. Sure, we don't know how Soderbergh will approach a musical - well, not specifically - or how Guided by Voices will handle the form; and sure, we know Lloyd Webber has had some success with the form... but we also know that his muscials are, really, rather dreadful. Evita aside (and I hated the film of that, despite some beautiful cinematography and a few good performances), his shows have had far more substandard numbers than winners.

I think a random selection of 5 CDs from the rock and pop section in the local HMV will likely yield a higher ratio of good songs; what's more, I think a random selection of 5 motion pictures from the DVD shelves will uncover, on average, better narrative storytelling than in Lloyd Webber's shows.

I'm disappointed to see Jackman off of the Soderbergh film - I like them both a lot and just yesterday saw and admired both Che films, a couple-few weeks back went a bundle for Jackman in Australia. Should Cleo ever happen - and it might - I hope somebody of a similar calibre to Jackman can be uncovered. No idea who that might be, however.

(And, no - not obvious-ish candidate Gerard Butler because it seems likely he'll be lining up for the Phantom, in the show's simultaneous West End launch).

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

They Mentioned My Home Town, So I Gotta Say Something, Right?

According to a new piece in Variety, Art House Cinema (capital A, H and C) is on the wane in the UK. Their number one example? A local institution, the Phoenix right here in Oxford, "a revered university town arthouse, [which] was screening Waltz with Bashir -- alongside Mamma Mia! and Wall-E"

What isn't mentioned, of course, that the local Odeon cinemas here often screen foreign language fare (well, more often than five years ago, and more and more often all the time). Of course, it shows it badly - their projectionists seem utterly incompetent, their seating doesn't compare to the local Vue (for example) and they regularly botch up in any other number of ways - but it shows it.

Oxford probably isn't a typical town.

We're also lucky enough to have The Ultimate Picture Palace. Situated ten minutes walk from the absolute centre of the cinema, this genuine independent - not part of a faux-alternative chain like The Phoenix has been for decades, but a cinema that belongs to and is pretty much run by just one man - shows an encouragingly eclectic mix of this, that and the other. Until recently, the Ultimate - or UPP, as we know it here - was quite forboding. It was dirty, the air smelled and stifled, the seats were hideous. But in just the last couple of months a drastic and exciting refurb has left these problems all but erased from memory. Now, all we need is for the front of the cinema to get fixed up too, and the programmes to start coming out on time and... well, okay, there are still issues, but it shames the Odeons already. This week Blindness and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas are playing, though this is an atypical line-up, perhaps to pad out the inter-holiday nothing week. Things are normally far more exciting and, if gossip is to be believed, only going to get better.

I don't think the issue is that "arthouse" cinema is dying, but that films for smaller audiences are being relegated to the off-circuit houses, like the UPP, or to DVD, whether they are arthouse or not. The bigger the target audience, the larger the chance of a chain screening - simple maths shows that the bigger target yields more hits, but arthouse isn't the only small target, and some "world cinema" spreads across a pretty big bullseye anyway.

And, no, this has nothing to do with art. It's commerce, I know.

There is a semi-solution, an imperfect one. It comes in the form of Netflix-type-rental, Blu-Ray players, reallty big home cinema screens and day-and-date or straight-to-DVD releases for any less than mainstream offerings. You might not get the shared experience, the communal kick of a night out at the movies, but you also won't have to deal with the Marge Simpson hairstyle in front of you, the blabber mouth behind you or the excessive (nay, spiralling into the stratosphere) ticket prices. And I swear, compared to a screening at the Odeons here in Oxford, my bedside second TV gives a perfect presentation.

Home cinema is probably the destination for a very large amount of "arthouse films" in the coming years - and there's bound to be complaints. Whinging, even. Some audience groups just don't know they've got it made - UK horror fans, for example, have had to deal with straight to DVD or imports to get at the real deal releases for some time already.

(Also absent from the Variety piece? Any indication that Wall-E is a work of art with far more resonance, integrity, intelligence and insight than a dozen Waltz With Bashirs; any suggestion that, actually, The Phoenix programme has been this way for a good few years).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Disappointments

Two news stories that have bubbled up to the surface today have left me feeling rather short on optimism, in two different ways. Please indulge me while I sulk a little.

Firstly: Stephen Chow is to no longer directed the Green Hornet film due to "creative differences" but is still "likely" to play Kato. That pretty much cuts off my enthusiasm for the project, and near the root too. Of course, we're only back to where we were some months ago, and I could muster up some energy then, so what's different now? Well, now we have a small stamp of disapproval from Chow. And, frankly, I trust Chow far more than I do Seth Rogen or, more importantly I suspect, producer Neil Moritz. Is Rogen going to can the whole thing all together? There's a possibility, if definitely not a probability, that this might happen. There's a stronger possibilty that if he doesn't, he'll one day wish he did.

Chow's attachment as solely an actor probably speaks more about paydays and contractual obligation than anything else. Crying shame.

Secondly: production on The Hobbit has been postponed for at least a year. Shooting is now set to start in 2010 with release on the first film only possible for 2012 or maybe even later. Again, this indicates possible problems with the production - most likely with the screenplay. Discord between Del Toro and Jackson could see the director depart or, possibly, a new writing arrangement struck. Only time will tell if either prove necessary.

Jackson has had a real run of bad luck of late - his Tintin film seems increasingly unlikely to ever go before the camera (or, rather, motion capture sensors); supposed creative differences saw Ryan Gosling duck out of The Lovely Bones; Susan Sarandon has publicly spoken out in criticism of the film and of Jackson's approach to characterisation; the production design and FX team on the film appeared to mount a mutiny that halted progress and highlighted possible serious cause for concern.

So, three of the upcoming films (four if we count The Hobbit as two) that I'd be most likely to get be getting excited by right now are, currently, looking a little worrisome instead. This time of year for film bloggers is very often about celebrating the best of the year gone by and looking forward with hope to the year to come but sadly, while I'm looking forward all right, it's with a definite set of mixed feelings.

Here's hoping Jackson can pull it all together down at Wingnut, and quickly, too; and that Chow bails entirely from this Hornet palaver and goes off to do something a whole lot more interesting instead.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Terry Gilliam Developing Zero Theorem

Pat Rushin's screenplay The Zero Theorem is currently undergoing development with director Terry Gilliam. Seeing as Gilliam's supposed next project - a remounting of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote - depends somewhat on the compliance of one J. Depp, who is a very, very busy man, I think Zero Theorem has every chance of going before cameras next year...

Well, pending the development process, budgeting and funding... oh, and casting and scheduling.

But those things tend to take care of themselves, right?

This film would be somewhat smaller than the typical Gilliam project, in the way that The Fisher King was, for example (you know - the film with the magnificent and epic Waltz in Grand Central station and the chase with the flaming knight on horse back through the streets and parks of New York).

Rushin is an Associate Professor in the English dept. at the University of Central Florida. As well as several stories published in anthologies and magazines, Rushin also wrote the screenplay to a short film called Control, directed by Scott Hulan Jones... and so far, my trail goes cold there.

If Gilliam is seriously chewing over his screenplay, however, I can guarantee that it's a good one. Anybody got a copy? You know I want to read this really badly right now.

[EDIT: And Pat Rushin has now confirmed to me that, yes, he's working with Terry. He's a good man, though, and wouldn't leak me the script - of course! Which means I'll have to turn to other sources and start begging and promising favours and the like]

Monday, December 08, 2008

DVD Picks For Xmas

Want to get the film lover in your life something special for Xmas? I would hope so - even if that film lover is you.

Here's my list of DVDs you probably haven't even considered for them but really should. I got my hands on each of these this year and love them all. They didn't have big marketing budgets. They didn't generally get cinema runs. They didn't get love heaped upon them by big name critics...

...but they are, without exception, rather superb.

Click on the link where any of them is named to get to an Amazon dot Com page where you can make an order and still receive the disc in time for Xmas. Woo hoo!

It gets tricky now because, operating under the assumption you haven't seen any of these films, I don't know how little or how much I should tell you. Take it on faith, please, that I'm recommending only the films I'm most supremely in love with.

The first gem? The highest profile. Otis (also on Blu-ray) was the fourth Raw Feed film and the second to be directed by Tony Krantz. Starring Illeana Douglas - who regular readers will know I adore - and featuring a wonderful ensemble of other performers, this was not your typical horror fare. Some say it is a satire on torture porn; others a grand guignol comedy of errors; some have compared it to Juno, of all things; I just reckon its sharp, smart and ambitious. A serial killer gets a hold of a suburban girl and when her parents find out, they decide to go all Virgin Spring on his ass - but this time we're a few doors up from the Last House on the Left and nothing quite goes the way you'd expect...

I'd put Otis in a double bill with Carrie any night of the week. Not only as they are both exceptional horror films with a prom twist to their plots, but because then I could make a Carrie/Otis double bill poster and not have to put Wild Orchid or Simon Says on there.

Another satirical horror film would be my second recommendation. Blood Car
is a true indie, apparently funded with just enough shirt buttons to pay for a single shoe string. It did the rounds of festivals - mainly very small ones - and racked up a few lower profile commendations as it did so. The trailer also points out that Jonathan Demme is a fan - and that's good enough for some, I'm sure.

Blood Car takes the Blood for Oil metaphor and makes it literal. It also manages to ridicule vegans while, ultimately, commending veganism. More importantly, perhaps, it has some truly outrageous jokes about pet slaughter by BB gun, butter-and-sex-stained bed sheets, government conspiracy and how to get a hitchhiker to look into the trunk of your car so that you might... er... sacrifice them for the good of mankind.

This is exactly what a no-budget film can do so well. Score a bonus point for the inclusion of Anna Chlumsky, formerly the My Girl girl and two more for introducing the world to Mike Brune.

Even smaller in scale (and that's a pun, and it is intended) is Sean Meredith's film of Dante's Inferno. Quite amazingly, the entire film has been staged and filmed as a piece of Victorian toy theatre - each of the characters being portrayed not by a flesh and blood actor but a cardboard cut out, manipulated in real time. Think of a live action cut out animation - if you can.

Shot by shot, the puppets are replaced giving each the perfect articulation and expression for any necessary moment. The sheer depth and breadth of creative thinking on display here would be recommendation enough but with this Inferno, you come for the dazzlingly original, idisosyncratic visuals and stay for the witty script, smart updates to the original and supreme vocie acting from Dermot Mulroney and James Cromwell. I wasn't blown away by the trailer - though I know some who were - but I really was by the whole thing (which is a nice reversal on the typical state of play).

Etgar Keret is currently pretty hot property with his short stories forming the basis for Wristcutters: A Love Story and Tatia Rosenthal's Best Animated Feature Oscar contender, $9.99 - but he's also directed a film himself, alongside his wife Shira Geffen.

Jellyfish was a lower profile film than Waltz with Bashir this year, but both being Israeli, they have been bundled together by certain critics. Which is very odd, as they have so little in common - some kind of daft nationalism at play?

Jellfish is like a winningly magic realist take on the interleaved-stories subgenre (you might argue Magnolia was a previous entry in this tiny subgenre, but even if you don't, Jellyfish is a far, far better film than Magnolia).

Keret and Geffen are doubtlessly a team to watch - and I'd even expect their next collaboration to be a big international smash.

A few years back, Minoru Kawasaka had something of a cult hurricane on his hands with The Calamari Wrestler, the story of a Wrestler who is also a Calamari (not to be confused with the upcoming Aronofsky film, which, obviously, is a mistake you were about to make - have you seen Mickey Rourke without his Marv on lately?). The rapid shooting schedule - you could count the days of principal photography on your digits if not your fingers - and seemingly less-than-zero budget did nothing to dim Kawasaka's basic good directorial sense, unfettered energy and idiosyncratic, swerving imagination. The same can be said for the three other Kawasaka films released just in the last few months - Executive Koala (salaryman is accused of murder, has a Koala head but that's okay, he's supposed to); The Rug Cop (cop fights crime with his crime fighting wig and no small amount of panache); The World Sinks Except Japan (the world sinks - well, except Japan, anyway and the Nipponese have to pick up the pieces).

The World Sinks is a kind of slanted satire that could just confuse some but fans of, say, Borat will have a field day with it; the others are simpler genre-disruption exercises with infectious pep in spades. Whole shovels of pep, getting lumped at you. This is the Xmas that Kawasaka peaks - with four of his best films in English friendly distribution.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Are These The 20 Best Films Of 2008?

Roger Ebert has published his list of the 20 best films of the year on his website, and here they are in alphabetical order:

Ballast, The Band’s Visit, Che, Chop Shop, The Dark Knight, Doubt, The Fall, Frost/Nixon, Frozen River, Happy-Go-Lucky, Iron Man, Milk, Rachel Getting Married, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, Shotgun Stories, Slumdog Millionaire, Synecdoche New York, W., Wall-E

Now, there's an awful lot of films on that list I would never dream of including on a list of my own (and, yes, I'm going to come back with such a list) and even a small handful of films I haven't yet seen (and, yes, that's why I'm not giving you my list now - there's still some contenders to be viewed) and even more still that I might render exempt as here in Blighty they'll not be given a full release here until next year, so I'll hold them over.

The one film on there that strikes me as most misplaced is The Dark Knight, but I'm definitely no fan of W. either. I swear to you, they won't be coming within a hundred miles of my best-of-year-end-a-thon. I might even write a special piece on why The Dark Knight is a genuine 2/10 ranker and just how - and for that matter, why - I think the wool has slipped, more than been pulled, over people's eyes.

Moving on. More encouraging is Ebert's support for Synecdoche New York which seemed to underwhelm most critics. Kaufman love is always welcome here.

So, which of these is on my longlist? Wall-E, without a doubt. The last two thirds are a mere shadow of the majesty and wondrousness on display in the first section but even those scenes stand head and shoulders above the competition - which is, while we're making lists like this, the remainder of 2008's films but could be extended to apply to all films, ever.

And... that's it, actually. None of the others are on my list. Yet. Mainly because I don't rate them, but other times because they've yet to unspool before my eyes in the first place.

Films not on Ebert's list that are pretty much shoo-ins for mine (or would be if it ran to more than 20, anyway)? There's.... The Mist. Burn After Reading. City of Ember. Juno. My Winnipeg. You, the Living. Garage. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days. Be Kind Rewind. Chocolate. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Hellboy 2. Redacted. In Search of a Midnight Kiss. La Antena. No Country for Old Men. The Spiderwick Chronicles. Dan in Real Life. Teeth. The Savages. Walk Hard. River Queen. Honeydripper. CJ7. The Boss of it All. Talk to Me.

Of course, a number of those would have been 2007 movies for Ebert... not that he included them all a year ago either.

Films I really, really wish I had seen and feel pretty darn confident about include Rachel Getting Married, Frozen River, Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Che, Tears for Sale, American Teen and Encounters at the End of the World. From all available evidence, they'd be on my list had I been lucky enough to see them.

There's a bunch of lesser known films in the running too - but I won't reveal those now because - drum roll please - coming in the next few days is my Gift List recommendation post. A nice little pile of DVDs that you may not have heard of, each one a genuine and heartfelt recommendation as a gift for that special movie geek in your life. I've come across my own copy of each of these truly special gems this year and did so either by accident, by determination or by miracle - but definitely in spite of popular neglect.

So, coming next: the DVDs to treat yourself or your loved ones to for a gift; then, the official film ick 2008 Films of the Year, Alright? rundown; and finally, just before New Year, I'll tell you why 2009 looks like an even better year than 2008 (which was a better year than 2007, itself a better year than 2006, and - pretty much without exception - so on and so on...)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Michael Sheen Is NOT The Cheshire Cat

So, if Michael Sheen is not the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland...

Somebody out there must know who he's playing however. And I want to know.

Five Point Zero

Okay, so of the thousands of people to read the announcement here, a couple of dozen went over to the film ick community messageboard. A few links from other sites and still nothing.

So it won't live on. Not unless something miraculous happens.

I need to find a way to make film ick happen but not take up all of my life. I am so busy - 12 hour days regularly - but I don't want film ick to die.

So I need to keep experimenting. Trying new ideas.

Next up will be some kind of weekly format. A column. I'd do it as an audio podcast if anybdoy online hosted such things for free - but apparently they don't.

So while I wait for that, it will take the form of a column. And I'll post it here.

Hopefully it will be incredibly saturated with news - lots of obscure stuff, the odd scoop - and in the style of film ick as you've known it all the while.

How does that sound?

Let me know
.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

First Trailer For The Boat That Rocked

A leak has sprung and from it flowed the first trailer for The Boat that Rocked - not officially online yet. And perhaps this cut of the trailer never will be.

I've popped the link up over at the film ick community board. Please come get it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

film ick 4.0

To bridge the gap between film ick as you know it (which is probably in the 2.x Blogger incarnation) and the much more manageable Twitter flash-news feed, I've created a new film ick community.

Please come, join up and join in. Get my version of the news, sure, but also get your voice heard too.

To get the ball rolling, I am currently transposing the Twitter items over to this community.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Twitter Update

I'm now starting to get my head around the Twitter thing.

You can see me by clicking on this very sentence.

More followers, please. Without you, how do I know to carry on? A couple of weeks of continued (exponential?) growth would keep the wheels on.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Twitter

Let's try an experiment. Or play a game. Or dip our toes into some strange water.

I'm going to reprise film ick, sometime in the next two days. There might be any number of updates per day. What's the catch?

I'm going to do it via Twitter. I'm there as brendonconnelly. Does that give you all the info you need to find and follow me?

Jump on now, so I can see you in my stats. And then the Twittering will commence. 140 characters is more than enough for most stories. Anyway, it will teach me disciplines I previously denied even existed.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oldboy Update

Will Smith has been pushed over the upcoming Oldboy remake, and what he had to say is likely to have varying results on people's anticipation levels.

Apparently, the remake won't be of the Chan Wook Park film at all, but another adaptation of the original manga. That means the most basic elements of the premise will be intact, but that the mystery will have an entirely different solution.

So, basically, all of the good work Park and co did fixing up the Manga will definitely be abandoned.

Personally, I think this cements the fact that Spielberg's film will flounder - creatively, of course, not commerically - as the source material will be inferior. On top of everything else going against the film... sheesh.

Of course, some might argue that the film is less likely to be truly offensive now, with Spielberg no longer in a position to graffiti all over Park's brilliant "original". I don't quite see it that way - Park's film will always be, no matter what Spielberg does, and it doesn't matter to Oldboy 1.0 what a turkey 2.0 is, but it does matter to 2.0 what source material it has to draw on.

Incidentally, the 2.0 script is to be by Mark Protosevich, (a) screenwriter of Thor, The Cell and various other things that hardly get my brim wet with the golden nectar of confidence.

Poor old Will Smith.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

McG's Wonder Woman Versus Spielberg's Oldboy

Nice to see you again.

Lets get some basics straight, right off the bat - Whedon's Wonder Woman should have been given the greenlight years ago; the last film Spielberg made that I can care about, for the good at least, and in any significant way is Jurassic Park, and that was because of the work of Phil Tippet and Dennis Muren.

Two prospective projects are getting discussed at length on the geek pages this week. One is a McG film of Wonder Woman, possibly - or possibly not - starring Beyonce Knowles. The other is a remake of Chan Wook Park's Oldboy, directed by Spielberg and starring Will Smith.

Will Smith, okay. I can work with that. I can see a very fruitful process in taking Oldboy and adapting it to fit Smith. If you run his skillset and screen persona through Oldboy you will end up with something sufficiently interesting and different to warrant a remake in the first place. It definitely doesn't kill the film, just makes it stranger. Will Smith lives in a specific world and is set at a specific register and planting Oldboy, full plot intact, on the fringes of this world intrigues me. Tom Cruise would be even more interesting. George Clooney, about as interesting. Nicolas Cage, less so - no offense, Nic, I still love you. If I were remaking Oldboy, I'd try to get Tom Cruise onboard in the lead.

Spielberg is the big problem with the plan. I simply don't think he has anything like the skills required to balance the elements of the storytelling here. Oldboy's is not an easy story to tell well - even Park, one of the greatest of all filmmakers didn't play a perfect game, and I doubt he would deny it. But he did do an incredible job. The film is jaw dropping, entirely entertaining, almost entirely engrossing and, for 5/6ths of the time, technically awesome. It would take something like an on-form Hitchcock, desperately hungry Tarantino or calm, relaxed Gilliam to execute the maneuvers necessary to pull off Oldboy to perfection. Spielberg won't even come close.

McG's Wonder Woman on the other hand seems a brighter proposition.

A satisfying Wonder Woman film would not NEED the conceptual complexity of Oldboy (as much as it might benefit from it) just a strong, keen concept and super polished execution. I know McG can do this - I've seen his three films, at least twice each, and with the exception of some later sequences in Full Throttle, found them utterly convincing. Convincing, that is, that McG could take a Wonder Woman, or a Superman, even a Batman, a Star Wars, an Indiana Jones and hit it out of the park.

The best director to make an Indiana Jones film so far was Robert Zemeckis: Romancing the Stone . While it was a far better piece of visual filmmaking than any of the "real Indy" films, he didn't have a Lawrence Kasdan script. Shame. Kasdan sure knows how to write. With a script of that caliber, McG could make a popcorn flick for the ages, I have no doubt. Louis Letterier - sub McG, for sure - will get his chance with the upcoming Clash of the Titans, assuming, of course, that it is still a Kasdan script when it goes before the cameras.

(Actually, Danny the Dog aka Unleashed is a case in point. The end film definitely stays afloat despite Letterier's intermittently bad decisions blasting a few medium size holes in the hull)

So, Wonder Woman's fate rests now in the hands of the script writers - getting the plot right, the pacing and structure just so, the dialogue under control; Oldboy already has that all ready to be maintained, and the quality of the remake there rests more squarely in the hands of the director. So, if I were a gambling man, I'd be betting on McG's film being the better, and that's even with the risk of a Rossio-Elliot-Orci-Kurtzmann-Nathanson-Koepp screenplay.

Postscript: and, yes, that was a riff on a line in The Dark Knight but no, I didn't like the film. Not at all, really. Gary Oldman was great... er... and... er... Ledger was good... Eckhart was good most of the time... and... er...

Another time.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Educational Opportunites




Click on the ad, make it bigger, be seduced, e-mail for more info, sign up, get wowed and come back every term.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wedding Bells

Rachael and I got married last Friday, 4th July. Independence Day. Woohoo for us! She's made some kind of honest man out of me.

Prompted by my UK passport and Rachel's US one, Rich Johnston (of LitG) commented at our reception: "Taking 'em back, one woman at a time".

I could have phrased that better. Not Rich's quip, the context. But I think you followed it. I hope. I thought it was a typical bolt of Rich genius.

So... as a wedding gift... anybody got the Inglorious Bastards/Basterds script? Pleeeeeease?

Send it over if you do.

Thanks.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oxford Film School

I'm running a free film class. Tuesday 1st July, St. Anthony's College, Oxford. 6.30pm. It's on the Woodstock Road, so right near the very centre of town. It's a real class, so you'll be learning something - but there will also be a chance to ask questions about my courses, find out when and where they are next running, meet other people interested in film and film-making and so on.

Should be brilliant.

To see some of the films made by previous students of my Intensive Film Workshop, head on over and check out the Oxford Film School placeholder blog page.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hellboy And Me

Rich Johnston over at Lying in the Gutters has put up a little report by me on Hellboy 2 and a roundtable interview with Guillermo del Toro. There's a couple of spoilers, but don't be too scared. Worth a click, I reckon.

Rich and I are apparently going to see Wanted this Thursday. We'll see. Don't know if it could possibly be worth getting up at 5am and rescheduling 5 of my students' lessons for....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Paul's Brain Trust - Once In A Lifetime Blade Runner Opportunity

Please read this.

I reckon that the greatest film of 2007 was Blade Runner: The Final Cut. It was also the best DVD set of last year - easily. And the Alien Quadrilogy boxset might still be the best DVD boxset on the market at all.

None of these things could have existed without Paul Prischman. He was a producer, or worked on the production team, on these and many more DVDs to treasure.

I remember the first e-mail I ever received from Paul, completely out of the blue. Just making conversation about something I had posted here. He was just a film fan, reading around - like me, and quite like you too.

The conversation went on through more e-mails and telephone calls. It didn't take long at all for me to realise how thoroughly decent Paul is, how knowledgeable, enthusiastic, interesting and, most importantly, I feel, how nice. As yet, I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Paul face to face, but I would like to call him a friend. He's definitely been a good friend to film ick.

Some good friends of Paul's have now set up a charity called Paul's Brain Trust. Why have they done this? Because Paul has been diagnosed with "particularly aggressive" cancer in his brain. Because, while Paul does have medical insurance, it won't cover everything. And because they love him.

I dare say you've probably loved his work - on the DVDs I mentioned above, or on the discs for Monster House, Spider-Man 2, or countless others. Please, then, check out the Brain trust page. Just click on over and see what they're up to. You'll be amazed, actually - for example: a very special screening of Blade Runner, right there alongside the lot where it was shot, with Ridley Scott attending and carrying out a Q&A... and much, much more.

Keep your eyes on the Brain trust site (and here, too) for more. Fingers crossed, we'll be able to raise some support for Paul via film ick too.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Again, The End?

Hey you! Yes, you. You can download a trailer for Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. It's in FLV, but is better quality than the version on YouTube - and doesn't have the placeholder bits of Buffy that the YouTube trailer did. This is the finished article and it's really very interesting indeed. Not to mention ahead of schedule: expect the show to start in January. 8 months from now. Better news, however, is that the show appears to have more than the initially understood 7 episode order because I've been sent some quotes from Whedon in which he mentions Tim Minear writing and directing not only the 7th but also 8th episode. If 8 instead is our lot or not, I have no idea, but I'm placing my chips on 13. Let's see a year or so from now how right or wrong I am.

I know that film ick officially finished up months ago, but recently I've been trying to get writing again. I'm currently negotiating for somewhere to publish my stuff... and negotiations, while convivial, promising and encouraging are also rather slow. But I think I'm about to start up very soon. Cross your fingers for me - it's a good platform, somewhere I'd be proud to contribute, and it will give me access to a lot more info, people, bits and pieces than I have managed alone.

Not to mention paying, just a tiny bit, meanign I can afford to make time to do the job. Which is nice.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Against All Odds

Kuntz and Maguire's Onion film is finally getting released. Yep. On the 3rd of June, the film will be slipped out on R1 DVD. Will it live up tot heir music video work? Will it live up to The Onion itself? Two "No" answers there, most likely, but this is, in modern times, one of the most conspicuously absent films and we should celebrate this news.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Too Good Not To Share

I'm back, because this is too good not to share.

So... did you ever wonder what could be "the greatest lie that Satan ever told"?


Find out.

(Personally, I can't see much difference between his old life and the new, expect the absence of 7k worth of silly trinkets and toys)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Scene From Where The Wild Things Are

Can somebody please tell me if this is a legitimate clip or not? It... certainly... looks like it. And that certainly sounds like Benicio... and... well, it was a nice surprise to find it in my e-mail, let me tell you.

Yeah, let's face it. It is real. At the very least it was a real test. I love the suit. Spread the word.


video

I'm still very busy, working away on a couple of BIG film projects and teaching, teaching, teaching. I'm thinking of bringing back film ick as a weekly podcast... sound like a good idea? Where should I host it?

And... I don't know what to say about Heath Ledger. Sorry. I don't know what to say at all. But I'm obviously incredibly pleased that The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is going to be completed.

[EDIT: I'm now told this clip was a test shot in the summer of 2005 in Griffith Park. And that's not the final Max, but Griffin Armstorff who improvised everything you see him do here. Presumably, Benicio Del Toro was then given dialogue to match the improv lines, but it's also fairly clear that the basic scene outline was probably preplanned first of all. On top of everything else, I think we can expect the finished film to look even better than this does]

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Heath Ledger, Swinger

Just Jared has on-set images from the shoot of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. See Heath Ledger hanging by the neck. It isn't a spoiler - it's the character's introduction in an early scene. But as to why he's doing this... that would be a spoiler.

Want to know why anyways? My age-old script review will tell you. Go into the archives for much, much more on this film.

Terry Gilliam's shooting a new film! It must be Christmas or something...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Look! It's The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus



This was worth coming out of semi-retirement for, surely?

The pics, taken by James Hatts, originated at London SE1.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Look What I Made

Just to keep my eye in, I'm hopefully going to be doing the occasional review for Daily Information, a primarily listings-and-classifieds website based here in Oxford. My review of We Own the Night (out in the UK on December 14th) has just gone live there. Please go and have a look.

They're going to be far shorter reviews than you'd be used to from film ick, but hopefully still well worth reading. Well, I say they're. I haven't been called upon to do another yet.

Talking of Oxford, I saw The Golden Compass and, frankly, can't quite work out where the fuss about it being castrated is coming from. As far as I could tell, all of Pullman's subtext was intact - so, yah boo sucks, Donahue. It was at least as clear as in, say The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - and that couldn't have been any more plain without putting the lion in sandals and giving him stigmata.

The subtext remaining, and readably so, was not what I expected, I have to admit - I thought this was going to be an utterly gutless, bloodless film without any kind of point of view or meaningful set of values - but it was definitely a pleasant surprise. Now, if only they'd made the onscreen version of the plotting a little cleaner and clearer and managed to relate Lyra's inner life more successfully. And tidied up some of the FX. And didn't end on a dull, drawn out pseudo-happy conclusion that rankled fans looking for the last few scenes and still failed to really create and closure for anybody else.


Gassner's production design was truly superb, though. And the blocking of the de-jawing shot was really rather clever. All in all, a six out of ten for Weitz' film, which is about four more than I anticipated it would rate. And a fairly respectable score for any film, I think.

[EDIT: A,N Wilson and Mark Lawson on the BBC's Front Row have agreed with me that, frankly, you'd have to be a bit dim to miss the subtext. Not a popular opinion - has everybody been so dim that in fact, they have missed it themselves?]

Oh, and quickly - before I vanish again for lord knows how long - a quick plug for the 5-Disc Blade Runner DVD set. I've spent hours and hours and hours with it and, frankly, it has proven to be the single best DVD set I have ever, ever encountered and not least because it includes The Final Cut, which is, ultimately, the best film of 2007. Here in the UK the price has been set at around the £22 mark, with several online deals undercutting that nicely. Come December 18th, US citizens will be shelling out a fat lot more, however, but all the same, it will be worth every last cent. Kudos to Charles de Lauzirika, Paul Prischman and the rest of the DVD team for all of the truly exemplary, engaging and entertaining supporting materials. These bonuses are a sweet heaven for movie lovers, even those as yet unswayed by Blade Runner itself.

Monday, November 19, 2007

If You're Still Out There, Reading This...

...and you're in the UK, then please, do me a favour and take a look at this. This is our attempt to use our excess capacity (our skills, video gear and weekends, essentially) to generate some work. Basically, Rachael and I are now a Videography business.

I'm particularly pleased with the second clip on the site - the christening one - but maybe that's because the wedding video is so heavily cut down in this excerpt.

Please share the link with anybody you know that might desire our services.

And thanks.

Once more.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Here's The Big Mad Max 4 News...

...there is none. It isn't happening. At all. Several details of the film that again won't be are coming out.

I've not been happy with my posts over the last week, so I've decided to call it a day here at film ick. I wanted the site to be something that I simply don't have the time or money to make it into. Maybe, one day, when I have the money, time and necessary support I'll come back with something slicker, but equally passionate and created with the same feelings.

So, now then. I'm outa here. Gone, sure, but hopefully not forgotten.

Thanks very much for you support. Antonello, Paul, Don, Mark... I could go on and on and on and on. You've been great to me over the months. I've enjoyed being in touch with you. I've loved hearing what you have to say. It's been my pleasure to simply get into the back and forth with you.

Goodbye. And thanks again.

Last thought: I saw Diary of the Dead last night. It's quite brilliant indeed - despite a few obvious problems with the overall concept. An angry, passionate, beautiful film that asks a lot of the right questions but doesn't pretend to have all the right answers. The US release is in February; there's no UK date yet; despite the AFM pre-sales hullaballoo, Romero claims to have no ideas for the next one yet and wouldn't want us to hold our breath for it.

I'd like to thank George Romero for being so committed to actually making films worth caring about, thinking about and, actually, loving. Diary repays your love. And it will join you when you stand up against the corruption, hypocrisy and greed.