Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Rat With Real Style


Stephane Kardos has posted some of his Ratatouille poster designs on his blog, and they are gorgeous. This might be my favourite one above (click-go-big), but they're all worth downloading and hording like some kind of crazy Pixar obsessive.

Kardos thinks the posters are going to be used as products - either sold as posters, or in a book, maybe?

Hostel 2 Clips On YouTube Now

Hurry - these are bound to be taken down within hours - but there are clips from Hostel 2 on YouTube right now.

These are the clips that were premiered at Nyerdcon last weekend, and though picture quality is hardly optimal, you might be left a little shaken.

Be sure and use a YouTube Download program or page to grab the clip for yourself before time is up.

Universal Are The Ironic Block To A Universal Next-Gen DVD Format

The Digital Bits have printed an impassioned plee to their readers, requesting that they lobby Universal Home Entertainment. The big issue? Universal are now the only major distributor to be releasing titles on HD-DVD titles but not Blu-Ray. The second that Universal support the format, the war is over. Everything will have come up Blu-Ray, and we can all get on with upgrading with impunity.

Don't forget: in Japan and Australia, the market share held by Blu-Ray dwarfs that of HD-DVD. Just another pointer that the end result is inevitable. Why don't we all speed it up?

The Digital Bits even provided a direct link to a form on Universal's website where you can mail the company. Please do so - but do so politely. Maybe copy your comment here so the rest of us can salvage it for inspiration. And if you fancy snail mail action or a wee chat instead, the address and telephone number are below.

Universal Studios Home Video
70 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
(818) 777-4400

Come on Universal. Don't drag this out unnecessarily.

First We Saw Den, Then We Saw Saw

Is Saw a complete and utter rip-off of another film? Looks like it might just be.

Den was released, in so much as a film without a distributor is ever released, in 2001. It was a full three years later that Saw came along, sharing many of the same elements, including a very convincing series of plot similarities.

Panel2Panel have an interview with Den director Greg Arce, and a big long list of Den vs Saw
comparisons. Here are the best few:

A madman has kidnapped strangers and locked them into an abandoned location. These victims are then subject to a number of weird mind games. One of them is a doctor - in the case of Den, a psychotherapist. The characters have hidden secrets that link them to one another, including a little something about infidelity. In the final scene, the victims are chained up so that they might not reach one another.

There are a number of visual coincidences too, with the central sets being dressed with pipes and chains. To me, it looks like the Saw boys have some explaining to do. Not to say that they won't be able to explain this all away, just that now they will have to.

Food for thought? I'd say so. And I'm not alone.

I'd love to see Den. I hope that I'd like it more than Saw, which - frankly - I really didn't like at all.

And, yes, a law suit is coming soon. The truth will out - whatever it is.

Polyester: Film Of The Future

The BBC have run a piece on the techno-future predictions of a Korean think-tank. The relevent piece is that, they believe, smell-o-vision will be with us, and widely used, within 15 years.

From YouTube to YouNoseIt? At least we'll all be able to enjoy John Waters' Polyester the way he intended for ever more.

Santa Of The Rings


Chicken Little man Mark Dindal has signed to co-script and direct Kringle, a live-action epic take on Santa Claus' adventures. Think snowbound battles, legions of war elves and the big man coming on like a pie-eating Reindeer-loving Gandalf.

Dindal's other spinning plate is
Sherlock's Secretary, a two word pitch in a title, which he has set up at Walden Media.

The original of Kringle is a novel by Tony Abbot. Anybody out there read it?

Bigger

The upcoming 2-Disc special edition of Big is no longer being touted as a director's cut, simply an extended edition. There appears to be no commentary track, but one of the special features that are there did catch my attention in particular.

Titled Big Brainstorming, the piece is an 'audio documentary' created by screenwriters Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg. Collaged from audio recorded during their writing sessions, this promises a very interesting, rather exclusive look into the scripting process. I wouldn't be surprised to see this synched to the film, as though a commentary, and maybe even be scene-specific where possible - though if it isn't, I wouldn't be too disappointed.

Lucy Liu Joins Cast Of Cashmere Mafia

The pilot for ABC's drama-comedy series Cashmere Mafia is being directed by film ick favourite, Peyton Reed. Lucy Liu has joined the cast, presumably as one of the four lead 'female executives'.

Things You, Me And Everyone We Know Don't Understand

In a New York Sun interview excerpted at Big Screen Little Screen, it is revealed that Miranda July is working on her next feature film script. This one is being adapted from her 'multimedia stage performance', Things We Don't Understand.

The basic narrative arc is described as "the disintegration of a romantic relationship". This is some people's idea of a good time.

I'll give July the benefit of the doubt. Me, You and Everyone We Know was occasionally dumb as a rock, sometimes quite nauseatingly induglent and ultimately underwhelming overall - but there was some potential in a fair number of isolated moments.

Death Proof Soundtrack

Aint it Cool have run the press release announcing what would be on the Death Proof soundtrack CD. Here's the really important bit, the tracklisting, with dialogue excerpts itallicised:

“The Last Race” — Jack Nitzsche
“Baby, It's You” — Smith
“Paranoia Prima” — Ennio Morricone
“Planning & Scheming” — Eli Roth & Michael Bacall
“Jeepster” — T Rex
“Stuntman Mike” — Rose McGowan & Kurt Russell
“Staggolee” — Pacific Gas & Electric
“The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)” — Joe Tex
“Good Love, Bad Love” — Eddie Floyd
“Down In Mexico” — The Coasters
“Hold Tight - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
“Sally and Jack (From the Motion Picture Blow Out)” — Pino Donaggio
“It's So Easy” — Willy DeVille
“Whatever-However” — Tracie Thoms & Zoe Bell
“Riot In Thunder Alley” — Eddie Beram
“Chick Habit” — April March

Children Of Men Double Dip Already Lined Up

The 2-Disc special edition of Children of Men, as discussed here just a few days ago, is due to hit UK shelves on March 19th. That's not even three weeks away.

Is this the quickest double dip ever?

There's almost a half hour of exclusive features on the HD-DVD release, but the hi-def war is far from over, says I, so buy at your peril.

Sunshite?

Apparently, Danny Boyle's Sunshine has been pushed back by a number of months because the finished film didn't 'meet expectations'. I'm sure it will meet mine. Boyle's films always have done.

I don't think reshoots are likely, but a recut might be. Or maybe just a release in a less valuable slot.

I'd like to thank the mighty Spinal Tap for the inspiration behind this post's title. All hail the Tap.

[EDIT: Sunshine is being released in April in the UK, where Boyle's name/national pride are possibly enough to open the film respectably, but the US release is indeed some months away. They may be having cold feet about releasing this in America where it is essentially a lower profile film than at home, and would need good word of mouth to do decent business]

[EDIT: Slashfilm's sources are agreeing with mine, now. They say that Sunshine was pushed back because it 'didn't meet expectations'. Sound familiar? Trust me, something's up. This film wrapped a year and a half ago]

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Up Close And Personal With Death Proof - Part One

There's been a couple of Death Proof reviews online, but none of them have been too heavy on the details. Let's change that, shall we? I'll review the script, sure, but I think you're probably less interested in what I have to say than getting delivered a nice, healthy pile of excerpts. Coming up, then, are some of the Best Bits of Death Proof - a script with plenty of Best Bits indeed. This might take more than one post - it's a long script with a lot of Best Bits - but I'll get you right up to the first massive twist this time around. And rest assured that there's plenty I'm passing over that is every bit as good.

So... first of all, the dedication page at the front:

This script is dedicated to the poet laureate of the Drive-In, Charles B. Griffith. Your work has always "Rocked All Night", daddy-o. Respect, Quentin Tarantino.

We begin on:

POV OF A CAR WINDSHIELD - DAY

The car is driving fast down the road. A pair of female bare feet with a gold ankle bracelet lie propped up on the dashboard emanating from the passenger seat.

A Good God Almighty rockabilly tune beats out of the car stereo, the feet tap to the beat.

The opening credits play over this image.

So - no surprises there. The foot fetish, the Good God Almighty soundtracking, the formal precision in the scripting - it would be pretty obvious to me who wrote this if, somehow, I didn't know.

What is less obvious is the clever, Hitchcockian manipulation. This isn't the last time we'll see this pair of feet propped up like this, nor is it the last pair of feet to be propped up this way; the anklet is a gorgeous technique to draw the eye definitively. Nothing here is accidental - every bit is delicious set up for later.

Next, a brief bit of postmodern jiggery pokery: we cut to a new location, where we meet jungle Julia Lucai. She's paddding barefoot through her appartment, in time to 'the cool rockabilly beat' - though, of course, we just established the source of the music is the car in the previous shot.

Julia is meeting up with Shanna and Arlene - Shanna was driving, Arlene is the feet - and the three of them are headed off on a '3 Girl 3 adventure', just as soon as Arlene pops up to Julia's appartment to pee (tick off bathroom scene on the pseduo-auterist Tarantino checklist).

SHANNA
So what's the plan, man?

JUNGLE JULIA
Margaritas and Mexican food at Guero's - did you call Rafael, tell him we're comin'?

The conversation goes on for pages and pages, as the girls drive along through Austin, Texas. At one point, Richard Linklater appears to be evoked - and the implication isn't necessarily a nice one.

ARLENE
Jessie Leadbetter, the Austin director who did "Potheads"?

JUNGLE JULIA
He's a good friend.

ARLENE
Remember freshman year, getting stoned and going to "The Dobie" to see "Potheads"?

JUNGLE JULIA
Just think, play your cards right, you'll be sucking his dick within hours.

The girls laugh and make gross noises.

SHANNA
Hey, jessie's got a big dick.

ARLENE
You went down on him?

JUNGLE JULIA
Half the girls in Austin have sucked Jessie's dick.

On page 13, the girls' car is passing down a Texas road at Dusk. This is when we are first introduced to Stuntman Mike, driver of the Death Proof muscle car. I'd expect this to be six or seven minutes into the film.

INT - MUSCLE CAR (MOVING) - DUSK

Out of the windshield of the powerful scary muscle car. trailing the girls from way far back.

The unseen DRIVER, eyes hidden behind dark glasses, glances up at Jungle Julia's billboard as he passes it.

A bluesy early seventies rock tune plays out of his thumping speakers.

All we can see of the DRIVER is he wears a Silver Satin Jacket with an embroidered "ICY HOT" patch on the back, wears his hair in a greasy half-assed pompadour, and he smokes Chesterfields like a chimney, indicated by the flowing ashtray.

As the music plays we see various INSERTS of the dash of this mechanical monster. Including one of the car keys in the ignition with a sparkplug keychain.

His hood ornament is a muscle bound duck flexing.

Before long, we get some important info on this man and his following of the girls:

We see rubber banded to the sun visor a Polaroid of Jungle Julia, Shanna and Arlene, wearing different clothes. this stalking is not random. He didn't just find them today. This is one part of a longer process.

Just as the music reaches a crescendo, we cut to a tight Sergio Leone CU of the Driver, smiling... then...

...the badass vehicle speeds off, making a thunderous racket.

After a few drinks at Guero's, the girls head off to Huck's, to hook up with their pot dealer and some boys - Omar, Pete and Nate. Nate will be played by Eli Roth, I believe.

Jungle Julia is performing a 'very sexy dance' to a 'bluesy rock classic'. When it ends, the barman Warren has something to say to her:

WARREN
Now, Julia, if you wanna carry on like the main attraction at a cathouse with four floors of wh*res, carry on - but if I gotta tell you one more goamn time to put out that f*cking cigarette, I'm gonna treat you just like any other beligierent drunk, and climb across this bar and hit ya upside the head with a horse c*ck.

Not everybody can write lines like that, now, can they? Or stage directions like these, that come directly afterwards:

Everyone in the place laughs.

Julia rolls her eyes to heaven, blows out a dramatic stream of smoke (ala Joan Crawford) and bitchily grinds out her cigarette on the table top (ala Bette Davis).

JUNGLE JULIA
Happy?

WARREN
As a clam. You may continue your one-ho show.

Shanna is later heard schooling Omar:

SHANNA
Now, there's one thing that every girl in the whole world whose name is Shanna has inc ommon with each other. We all hate the name Shauna. And we really hate it when people call us Shauna.

OMAR
So that was a bad move on my part?

SHANNA
Oh yeah. Your f*ck*bility stock is plummeting. Just remember: it's Shanna Banana, not Shauna Banauna.

Very soon, a young lady called Pam is ditched by her 'soft c*ck' boyfriend. She's the one played by Rose McGowan. Sitting at the bar, she gets rather well acquainted with Stuntman Mike after a creepy case of eavesdropping.

PAM
You've been eavesdropping on me?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Well, there's eavesdropping and there's can't help[ but hear. I think I belong in the later category.

PAM
You offering me a ride home, Icy Hot?

STUNTMAN MIKE
I'm offering you a lift if when I'm ready to leave, you are too.

PAM
When you are thinking about leaving?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Truthfully, I'm not thinking about it. But when I do, you'll be the first to know.

PAM
Will you be able to drive later?

STUNTMAN MIKE
I know looks can be deceiving but I'm a teetotaller. I've been drinking club soda and lime all night. I'm building up to my big drink.

PAM
What's that?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Virgin Pina Colada.

He soon explains his take on booze:

STUNTMAN MIKE
The alcohol is just a lubricant for the individual encounters that a barroom offers.

PAM
Is that cowboy wisom?

STUNTMAN MIKE
I'm not a cowboy, I'm a stuntman. Very easy mistake to make, Pam.

PAM
How do you know my name?

STUNTMAN MIKE
When you were talking to Warren, I couldn't help but hear.

PAM
Fair enough. What's your name, Icy?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Stuntman Mike.

PAM
Stuntman Mike's your name?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Ask anybody.

Pam turns to Warren.

PAM
Hey, Warren, who is this guy?

WARREN
That's Stuntman Mike.

PAM
And who the hell's Stuntman Mike?

WARREN
He's a stuntman.

More intorductions later. Stuntman Mike and Jungle Julia:

STUNTMAN MIKE
Wait a minute, you got a billboard by Big Kahuna Burger, don'tcha?

JUNGLE JULIA (to LANNA-FRANK, her pot dealer)
See, I told you, I'm not that famous, I'm just that recognisable. If you know what I look like, you'll know when you see me. (Holding out hand). Jungle Julia Lucai.

STUNTMAN MIKE
Stuntman Mike Mikki.

Namedropping of a different kind shortly after, as Stuntman Mike explains to Pam that he double for Gary Clarke on The Virginian. She has no idea who or what either of those things are.

WARREN
I hate to tell you this, Mike, but dropping Gary Clarke's name don't get Gary Clarke p*ssy no more.

Pam asks:

How exactly does one become a stuntman?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Well, in Hollywood anybody fool enough to throw themselves down a flight of stairs can usually find somebody to pay ya' fer it. But, really, I got into the business the way most people get into the stunt business.

PAM
And how's that?

STUNTMAN MIKE
My brother got me into it.

PAM
Who's your brother?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Stuntman Bob.

We're now 60 pages into the script, and according to conventional wisdom, we'd be an hour into the film. In this case, however, it is going to be more like 20 minutes, 30 on the outside.

Some creepy interactions between Mike, Julia, Shanna and Arlene later (I'll let you wintess them for yourself) and everybody is ready to leave. The girls are arguing about who is the most capable to drive - Lanna-Frank wins on the grounds that she is the most-stoned but least-drunk and gets behind the wheel - while Mike shows Pam his Death Proof car:

Pam is taken by the sight of the badass black muscle car.

PAM
Wow. That's f*ckin' scary.

STUNTMAN MIKE
Well, I wated it to be impressive, and scary tends to impress.

PAM
Is it safe?

STUNTMAN MIKE
It's better'n safe. It's Death Proof.

He later adds:

Don't worry, Pam, you'd hafta choke to death on a ham sandwich to die behind the wheel of this baby.

Mike is boxed in behind the driver's wheel, surrounded by caging and toughened plexiglass. You can get a good look at this in the trailers. Unbeknownst to Pam, Mike is following the other girls with something nasty in mind. Pretty soon, the Death Proof car comes to a junction.

STUNTMAN MIKE
Which way you goin', left or right?

PAM
Right.

STUNTMAN MIKE
Oh, that's too bad.

PAM
Why is that too bad?

STUNTMAN MIKE
Because it was a fifty fifty shot on whether you'd be goin' left or right. You see, we're both goin' left and you could of just as easily been goin' left too, and if that was the case, then it would of been a while before you would of started getting scared. But since you're goin' the other way, I'm afraid you're gonna hafta get scared immediately.

Shortly after:

STUNTMAN MIKE
'member when I said this car was death proof? Well, that isn't a lie. This car is 100 percent death proof. Only, to get the benefit of it... you really hafta be sitting in my seat.

And what Mike does right now beggars belief. The next scene or two are truly astonishing. Shocking even. If you think you know what's coming, you might be close but you won't be close enough. Honestly, you have no idea of the impact these events have just on the printed page.

On the cinema screen, they're going to be heartstopping.

More soon...

Ciggie Science

What do The Birds and The Usual Supects have in common?

Thanks to Mart for the tip off.

Script Review: The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus By Terry Gilliam And Charles McKeown

Don't ask me how, because I'm not entirely sure myself but through a confusing series of clandestine exchanges, film ick have managed to get ahold of Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown's script, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus. I don't even know when the script wound up here, but here it is, in the virtual pile. Keep reading - because you'll want to know all about this one. There will be spoilers ahead, but nothing from the latter parts of the story.

The script opens with a typically Gilliam juxtaposition of the banal and the wondrous, as 'four big horses' pull a 'hulking great wagon' - windowless and apparently driverless - down an urban terrace, then on past a couple snogging in a parked car and into a 'dingy backstreet'. This is where the wagon first astonishes us, opening 'like a dark menacing flower unfolding its petals', transforming into 'an old fashioned and very shabby travelling theatre' - the titular Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus.

We now meet the players of this eccentric show: Percy, the dwarf (yes, of course) ; Anton the clowning, sleight-of-hand expert; the beautiful young Valentina; and her father, Dr Parnassus. Their audience at this first engagement proves to be a rabble of drunks piling out of a nightclub to the rather unexpected sight of the Imaginarium and cast.

While Parnassus meditates atop a glass plinth - to give a cheap, cheesy illusion of levitation - Valentina, Percy and Anton play out a scene and make the audience an offer. As Anton puts it:

Ladies and Gentlemen... Step up! Step up!... I, Mercury, the messenger of the gods, invite you... tonight, for one night only... at this very venue... to enter the mind, the very great mind, of Doctor Parnassus!

And he means that literally. When a young chap called Martin storms the stage in a booze-haze, he swifly finds himself whisked away through a naff-looking prop mirror and into the landscape of Parnassus' imagination.

Martin lustfully chases Valentina through a living forest, but she slips away, back out of the mirror set-piece and onto the stage. Left behind in Parnassus' dreamscape, Martin is lost, confused and vomiting drunkenly. The script goes on:

He falls into a pit. It’s full of spiders. Terrified, he scrambles out only to collide with a giant web. He breaks free and falls into another pit. This one’s bottomless. He continues falling until he reaches... A vast moonlit desert. Nothing. MARTIN crumples to the ground sobbing.

Here he is presented with a fork in the path, a clear choice to be made definitively. On the one hand, Martin might chose to head into a beautiful vista where 'in the distance a light is glowing. It’s the sun, rising above a rocky cactus strewn landscape. The music is beautiful. Ethereal' - or turn instead towards 'a roadside bar/nightclub with flashing neon lights has appeared. It looks like a stage set. Not real'.

Martin choses the nightclub, where he is welcomed by 'a mechanical fairground figure of a jolly smiling man distinguished by a bowler hat and a red waistcoat.' This is Mr. Nick, the devil himself, the villain of the piece. Much more from him later.

Back in the 'real world', the show is disturbed by the arrival of police, so Parnassus and company pack up for the night. The Dr is disappointed in Martin's choice of the nightclub over the serene sunrise, and chastises Anton and Valentina for letting a drunk through the mirror, explaining that "People must be in their right minds when they make a choice."

And so ends our first encounter with the Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus. As expected, the various scenes we'll enter through the mirror are imaginative and immersive, like the best, most vivid dreams, and the scenes in the waking world, outside of Parnassus' skull, are genuinely original, idiosyncratic and colourful. Of Gilliam's other works, this compares to Brazil in particular, I suppose, with the non-dream scenes being every bit as inventive and striking as the dream-scenes.

The next night, the travelling theatre unfolds at a fairground and a nine year old boy gets to go beyond the mirror. His final choice is between a violent battle-field rendered like a video game, pumped up with agressive music and offering unlimited ammo; and a mountain pathway made of piano keys on which ballerinas dance and piano teachers offer lessons. He makes his choice rather easily - but I won't reveal which way here, for fear of runing the moment in the movie.

At the show's end, there's more trouble with the police, of course - and then the story takes an important step forward. Mr Nick appears to see Parnassus and we learn that the two of them have an old score to settle. It seems that Parnassus is in debt to the devilish fellow, but the price to pay is far too terrible to contemplate...

Plucking a magical snowglobe out of the air, Parnassus begins to show the story to Valentina, to explain their terrible circumstances to her. The camera pushes into the snowglobe, to show us:

A HOODED RIDER moves slowly through the snowstorm, the horse picking its way carefully across a field of virgin snow. In the distance, on a hill, is a monastery. Dim light comes from a couple of windows. Entering via a window and looking down into the monastery dining hall, we see DOZENS OF MONKS sitting at a long refectory table. They are eating their supper and listening to a young DR. PARNASSUS who is sitting on a dais at the far end of the hall, his eyes closed, in a trance, telling a story. The door to the refectory swings open with a crash.
The MONKS look up. Standing on the thresh-hold is the hooded figure, covered with snow. He throws off his hood. It's MR NICK.

According to the young Parnassus in this flashback, the world is kept turning by storytellers, and should the stories end, everything will be over. Mr Nick doesn't agree of course - calling this a 'weak hypothesis'. A fairly typical argument to be found at the centre of a Gilliam film, I'm sure you'll agree.

A wager was made between Parnassus and Nick, back then. Parnassus would offer a quintessential choice to undecided souls, as we have seen in the Imaginarium, and as the Dr explains:

Whichever of us won ten converts first, would win the bet... My argument was the importance of the story, the power of the imagination... His, the power of material things, the supremacy of stuff... Naturally... I won.

His prize? Eternal life.

We skip forward to the late 20th century, where a tramped-down Parnassus and Percy perform on a street corner. None of the passers by show any interest, unsurprisingly - but this is also when Parnassus first spots his bride-to-be, the unnamed 'beautiful woman'. We're nearing an explanation of his debt to Mr Nick - 'I won my bride. I was in love. But at what price?' - but before he can get any deeper into his confession to Valentina, Parnassus is interrupted.

The wagon has stopped in the middle of Blackfriar's Bridge, during a thunderstorm. Valentina steps out to see why...

Here she finds ANTON pointing excitedly down into the Thames.

ANTON
Incredible! I saw somebody dancing in the air.. under the bridge..

VALENTINA looks doubtfully at PERCY who peers morosely out from under his sou-wester and shakes his head.

ANTON (CONT’D)
It’s true! There was a shadow on the water, when the lightning flashed...

Lightning flashes again. We see what ANTON and VALENTINA see. A shadow, on the water, of someone ‘dancing’, hung by his neck with a rope attached to the underside of the bridge.

One rope-swinging rescue later (think: Time Bandits), the hanged man is onboard the wagon. He appears to have lost his memory, and has no idea why he was hanging there; moreover, he has strange symbols written on his forehead, odd weights in his pockets and a little metal tube in his mouth...

Of course, all of this is explained later, but not here. You'll have to wait until the money men of the world come to their senses and give Gilliam the relatively modest budget this film would require.

I'm wondering, in fact, if Gilliam and McKeown haven't deliberately cut prospective costs as much as possible here. By Gilliam standards, this is essentially a chamber piece. Over half of the scenes take place on the wagon or fold-out stage, and those in the other portion that do take place inside the Doctor's imagination seem designed specifically to work well if shot on a small green screen set - as per Mirrrormask, I would say.

When all is said and done, we essentially have a simple fable that dramatises some of Gilliam's long standing concerns really rather well. Much of it might seem a little familiar, particularly if you have also read the script for Gilliam's long-in-limbo The Defective Detective but this is the better script in many ways, however, if certainly far smaller in scale. The satire here feels less dated, more directly relevant, than in the Defective script I read (it has an excuse: it was written in the mid-90s) and there are more, and better, jokes.

As you probably would expect from how things were going, there's a final scene inside the Imaginarium that runs much longer than the earlier ones and is considerably more complex. It gives us a rather dynamic, far-reaching climax without compromising the modest scale of the rest of the narrative. A few brief bits and pieces, like this final Imaginarium episode, seem like Gilliam's reinvention of Being John Malkovich - but only in relation to the pieces of Malkovich that were rather Gilliam-indebted in the first place.

With Kaufman and Gondry also releasing and working on several high profile reality-vs-fantasy stories, this subgenre is no longer so clearly owned by Gilliam. He has competition now, and in some ways, he may appear to have fallen behind. For example: none of the character writing in Imaginarium matches the calibre of Kaufman's best work - but then again, that may hardly be the point in a fable like this; none of the technique behind the fantasy is as joyously idiosyncratic as Gondry's sticky-back-plastic approach - but that's got little to do with quality and more to do with aestehtic taste.

The bottom line is that this script promises a very good film indeed: a simple, clean story with imagination, eccentricity and wit; with clear opinions and the confidence to argue for them; with some very funny gags, astonishing imagery and brilliantly inventive set-pieces. The key roles seem to be crying out for star players, and it might be easy to imagine some of Gilliam's previous collaborators in the parts.

Robin Williams as Mr Nick, maybe? Jonathan Pryce as Dr Parnassus? Or John Hurt, if we're going older? There must be a short queue of dwarves in line for Percy. The small role of Beautiful Woman could be filled by either Uma Thurman or Monica Bellucci (first choice for and eventual player of The Queen in Brothers Grimm) I'm sure.

Cast just a little against type, Hugh Grant would make a great Hanged Man - which might give you a clue as to how his character develops. I'm not sure about Anton or Valentina, personally - Valentina is 15 years old, so we're probably looking at an unknown, Anton needs to be just a few years older and be quite a strong physical performer. A couple of circus kids, maybe?

There are only a smattering of other parts in the film, at least parts that last more than a few seconds, and virtually none that get more than one scene. This is small stuff for Gilliam, but that is by no means a criticism - Tideland was smaller still.

I'm probably looking at what amounts to a first draft here. I dare say some of the minor issues will be resolved in the next pass. If I had a say, I'd certainly bank roll this one. My only reservation is that Nick and Parnassus' relationship feels a little awkward. I think we need to see them spend more time together, probably during the snowglobe flashback, to root their rather arcane wagers and agreements in something more identifiable and relatable. It makes sense as it is, but that doesn't mean it feels entirely believable on any emotional level.

Gilliam and McKeown are clearly a very good writing team; Gilliam and Grisoni are clearly much, much better. This didn't read like a film as strong as Tideland, Fear and Loathing or maybe even The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, but it did compare very favourably to The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Time Bandits or Jabberwocky.

More on The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus later. Much more - particularly if and when the film gets funding.

What's It All About, Wall-E

Jim Hill have provided a very exciting breakdown of the first act of Andrew Stanton and Pixar's upcoming Wall-E. The short version: this film sounds truly incredible.

The not so short version: amongst other things, the report reveals just what the name Wall-E means, where and when the film is set, who the lead characters are plenty more spoilerific stuff. Below are a few choice excerpts, which you may read at your peril, or you might prefer to simply get the full-fat version straight from the horse's mouth (so to speak).

Our story opens on Earth in the year 2700. Which -- due to the horrible way that humans have treated this planet -- is now just one massive trash heap floating in space.

...mankind has abandoned the planet. We're now all living aboard the Axiom, this massive spaceship that circles high overhead.

...mankind hired this enormous, inept corporation -- Buynlarge -- to supervise the clean-up effort. And that company -- in turn -- sent hundreds of thousands of robots down to the planet's surface to pick up all of the trash.

But Buynlarge's Waste Allocation Load Lifters -- Earth Class units really weren't up to the task. And so -- over the centuries -- these robots slowly began breaking down. Until now... there's only one WALL E left running on the entire planet.

Over the past 700 years, WALL E has gotten ... quirky. To be specific, he's become somewhat self-aware & curious... WALL E has collected an amazing array of human artifacts. Things like a Rubik's Cube, a lightbulb, a Playmate portable ice chest. But this robot's proudest possession is an old VCR. On which he plays -- over and over again -- a VHS copy of Hello, Dolly!

Everything that this robot knows (Or... thinks he knows) about mankind, he's either learned from picking through garbage and/or by watching a 700-year-old Barbra Streisand film.

...one morning... a spaceship almost lands on him. And what should float out of the craft but this sleek new unit, EVE.

It isn't 'til a sudden sandstorm forces WALL E & EVE to seek shelter in the very same vehicle that these two mechanical devices then really begin trying to communicate. With the trash-collecting robot trying to impress this more advanced model by showing off his collection of rare human artifacts.

EVE is recalled. And as she reboards her craft to return to space... WALL E latches onto her craft. And this robot -- along with the rocket -- is hurtled off into space. Which is where the real fun begins ...

...with the exception of the music & the dialogue that we hear coming from that VCR that plays Hello, Dolly! -- that's it. The rest of this section of Pixar's 2008 release is (in effect) a silent movie.

...wait 'til you see what happens to WALL E once he gets on board the Axiom and finds out what has become of mankind. How -- because humans have grown even more lazy in the 700 years that they've been off Earth -- we're all now just these enormous fat blobs who can only move about because we travel in huge floating lounge chairs.

There are so many other aspects... that are daring and/or charming. Take -- for example -- Fred Willard's involvment with this production. Fred plays the president of the Buynlarge Corporation. And this will be the very first time that a really-for-real human performer will appear in a Pixar production.

As I said... what an incredible set-up for what will definitely be an incredible film. I'm almost crippled with excited anticipation.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Matt Damon, Adrien Brody And Gary Sinise In J J Abrams' Star Trek?

IGN are alleging that Matt Damon, Adrien Brody and Gary Sinise are in talks to appear in J J Abrams' Star Trek film - as Kirk, Spock and Scotty, respectively. [Of course, I meant Bones McCoy, not Scotty. Because, you know, I was wide awake when I wrote this and I even care a tiny little bit about Star Trek and everything. Thanks to Adam for the correction]

So I can give up on 'hoping for' Leonardo DiCaprio, D J Qualls and John Hannah then. [Or, in this case, DiCaprio, Qualls and... er... I dunno. Who was this Bones chap anyway?]

Ahem.

Is This Funny?

Cronenberg On Cage

According to David Cronenberg, Nicolas Cage is interested in the latest remake of The Fly. He told E! "From what I hear, Nic Cage wants the part." Cronenberg is not involved in the film, but is understandably keeping abreast of its development.

But who is going to play Brundlefly in the Fly musical, David?

Not The Oscars

You can call these The Notscars, if you want. Here are my awards for films of 2007, in some of the categories that were featured in the Academy's delusion-fest last night. I've left the acting selections well alone.

Visual Effects
Children of Men

Animated Feature
Cars

Costume Design
Tideland

Makeup
Hostel

Art Direction
Tideland

Music (Score)
Little Miss Sunshine

Music (Song)
Borat

Sound Editing
Cars

Foreign Language Film
Pan's Labyrinth

Film Editing
Dave Chappelle's Block Party

Cinematography
Nicola Pecorini, Tideland

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Terry Gilliam and Tony Grisoni, Tideland

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Rian Johnson, Brick

Directing
Terry Gilliam, Tideland

Best Picture
Tideland

- and even though the Academy refuses to honour stunt people -

Action Direction
Casino Royale

Teaser Poster For Rob Zombie's Halloween


This is the teaser poster for Rob Zombie's
Halloween rehash.

Zombie's really going for the creepy kid angle here. No surprises that his script spends at least a third of it's running time on events that relate to just the first two shots (turning a blind eye to those 'invisble' edits) of the John Carpenter original.

[EDIT: Please note that this is no fake. A small thumbnail of the image can be found on Sheri Moon Zombie's official site]

[EDIT: Okay, please re-note that it is a fake - just like Sheri Moon Zombie's 'official' site. Don't people have anything better to do?]

[EDIT: And now, if you will, re-re-note that this is neither a fake nor an official poster. It was fan created, sure, but it has been sanctioned by Rob and Sheri Moon. Don't expect to see the Weinsteins use it, however]

Grindhouse Official Site Updated With Wallpaper And Zombie Hurting Game


Above are my pick of the new Grindhouse wallpapers - click them for the huge versions. The full range are available now on the film's (films'?) official site, alongside some other nifty new additions. The zombie hurting game, Grindhouse Scream Machine, seems to have no clear end, but you might find it fun after a stressful day.

Stay tuned to film ick for a very extensive
Grindhouse piece in the next few days. I can't say much more right now, but I promise you that it will be worth the wait.

We're Trying Out A New Look

Please, please leave us a comment below and let us know if you like the new look or not, and why. Check out some old stories using the search facility and random sampling of labels below to bug hunt the new format with posts that weren't conceived with the layout in mind. If anything untoward happens, let us know and we'll do our best to fix it.

We're listening to you and will make any necessary changes that are much wanted to ensure that film ick works for the readers in the way it should.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus

Terry Gilliam has told Phil Stubbs the name of his newly completed script and it is The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus. Not to be confused, of course, with Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium.

Parnassus is the script co-written with Charles McKeown. More soon, hopefully.

Quentin Tarantino To Program Films For The New Beverly

Do you live in LA? Then you are very, very lucky. And that's not anything I thought I'd ever say since I spent far too long there.

Now, though, everything's looking rosy in LA, until May at least, because Quentin Tarantino has programmed two full months at The New Beverly Cinema. The New Bev is just the right venue for him, not least because every single show is at least a double feature.

He's lined up The Mack and The Chinese Mack; Machine Gun McCain and Wipeout; The Van, Pick-Up Summer and Summer Camp; Rolling Thunder and The Town that Dreaded Sundown; Chinese Hercules and Black Dragon; Sex With a Smile, Sex on the Run and The Oldest Profession; Brotherhood of Death and Johnny Tough; Autopsy and Eyeball; Coonskin, Shame of the Jungle and Tunnel Vision; Pretty Maids All in a Row and Revenge of the Cheerleaders; Fearless Fighters and Supermanchu; The Blood Spattered Bride, Asylum of Blood and Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary; The Lady in Red and Bare Knuckles; The Female Bunch and Wonder Women; White Line Fever and Retrun to Macon County; The Girl From Starship Venus and Legend of the Wolf Woman; Slithis and Screams of a Winter Night; Hot Summer in Barefoot County and Redneck Miller; The Muthers and Fight for your Life; Dragon's Vengeance and Kung Fu: The Punch of Death; The Swinging Barmaids, The Swingin' Pussycats and The Swinging Cheerleaders; Grave of the Vampire and Jailbait Babysitter; Return of the Tiger and Stoner; Death Rage and Cry of the Prostitute; The Real Bruce Lee and Lee Lives Within.

I had to put the whole list there. The whole incredible list.

I remember the first time I saw The Van (a Dodge, not a Chevy, don't believe the hit-parade hype) which was in 1982, I believe. I would have been only 9 years old and then, for at least 20 years, I wanted to make my own Van film. I think I've had it out of my system for a while now.

On April 5th, the New Beverly will be previewing Grind House, and I dare say the man himself will be in attendance, redefining the term 'wrong place at the wrong time' for little ol' Oxford bound me.

Independent, If Only In Spirit

Little Miss Sunshine won the Best Feature, Best Director, Best First Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor categories at the Independent Spirit Awards. You'll not hear so much about these awards - not as compared to those Oscars - but it is every bit the same modelled, poised, crowd-pleasing affair, just with the agenda to support and promote independent films in particular.

Well, those films that are independent in reputation and 'independent' in style, at least. In this way, the Miramax-ification of the film world has affected the Independent Spirit Awards even more so than the Oscars.

Big Mike, Little Mike



The MySpace page of Rob Zombie's impending Halloween rehash has been update with the above images - your first look at the young Michael Myers and the older, be-masked, Shape-mode version - so here they are, above.

Not Safe For Work: The Hostel 2 Poster With Two Bare Breasts And One Misplaced Head

There's a very clear version of the Hostel 2 Bijou Phillips poster at Horror Movies. It isn't safe for work but is quite interesting indeed.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

What's On The 2 Disc Children Of Men DVD?


The first PAL version of Children of Men to come as a 2-Disc special edition appears to be the Australian one, released just one day after the R1 NTSC release (28th and 27th March respectively). No sign of it on the horizon here in the UK, where we got an early, but skimpy, single disc release at Christmastime.

The special features as listed by retailers are:

  • Children of Men comments by Slavoj Zizek
  • Futuristic Design - from concept to creation, see how director Alfonso Cuarón’s dynamic vision of the future was brought to life
  • Visual Effects - Creating the Baby
  • Men Under Attack - Making of Featurette
  • Theo & Julian - get the inside story from Clive Owen and Julianne Moore
  • The Possibility of Hope - a documentary by Alfonso Cuarón that explores the themes in Children of Men
  • Deleted Scenes
You may have seen Slavoj Zizek's A Perverts Guide to the Cinema, which started very well but ended up taking a few tumbles after the odd crazy leap of speculation and supposition. Dealing with just one film, and one so ripe for Zizek's flavour of psychoanalaytical-come-philosophical film essaying, could prove to be much more successful.

The prize item appears to be The Possibility of Hope, but I'm sad there's still no commentary track.

Synergistic Marketing Ploy Starts A Chain Reaction That May End Up Brining The Time Bandits 2 Mini-Series To The Sci-Fi Channel

How was that for a lumpen headline?
The Sci-Fi Channel and Virgin comics have announced a partnership at NYerdcon. The plan is that they will create a series of comic book properties already primed for TV and cinema continuation, then if the printed-page roadtest works out, get cameras rolling.

There will be at least five titles, and from what we've already learnt about Virgin comics, there's a very good chance Terry Gilliam will be involved; and almost as good a chance that Time Bandits 2 will be one of his projects; and every chance it will end up as a mini-series on Sci-Fi.

It was originally designed as a mini-series for Hallmark, you see. They dropped that ball, the fools.

This is an interesting coupling, and it shouldn't take too much luck for this initiative to birth the next Buffy or Firefly, or at the very least Alias or Lost.

Say Uncle: Warren's Creepy And Eerie Coming Back From The Dead

After publishing Forry Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland and Monster World, Warren launched Creepy and Eerie, two pioneering horror comics. They've been forgotten, really, left in the shadows of Tales from the Crypt, but they're not gone. Not for good.

Now the two brands are being redeveloped by Submarine Entertainment and Grand Canal Films, with an eye to creating some theatrically released films. As a back up plan, the producers aren't ruling out TV or even something online.

I don't think the iconography of either Creepy or Eerie is particularly strong, and there's barely any nostalgiac currency in the names, so this seems like a dead-end to me. The resulting films may end up masterpieces, but I can't see how they're going to benefit from the brand association.

Maybe there could be some work for John Landis or Joe Dante, however, and that is always a good thing, even when it isn't, if you catch my Blues Brothers 2000 shaped drift.

The Magic Bullet

According to Nikki Finke, the bearded triumvirate of Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg have been lined up to present the Best Director Oscar together this Sunday. The thinking seems to be that Scorsese is a shoo in, and the four of them will make for a historical photo opportunity.

The only thing that could come close to turning this shudder-fest around would be Little Miss Sunshine picking up Best Picture right afterwards but, sadly, I'm not expecting that to happen.

Beloved Sci-Fi Properties In Hands Of TV Names

Alias and Lost's J J Abrams appears to have signed on for the next Star Trek film; Babylon 5's J Michael Straczynksi is scripting the big-screen adaptation of Max Brooks' World War Z. My money's on the latter being the better film, providing they get a half-way decent director.

And not just because it has zombies in.

Hey - what do you reckon the chances of Romero being offered the big studio pay cheque might be? It almost happened with Resident Evil, after all.

Friday, February 23, 2007

He Does Whatever A Spider Can




Short Spurts From A Black Snake

MoviesOnline, bless 'em, have posted a number of clips from Black Snake Moan. If they showed any more of Sam Jackson's persuasuve powers, it'd probably cure you of your nymphomania, through the screen.

Millennial Fail Safe From Frears And Clooney Headed To DVD

In 2000, Stephen Frears directed a live TV remake of Fail Safe. It starred George Clooney, who also produced, and I never got to see it being an Englishter with the bare minimum of channels. Now, though, it's getting a R1 DVD release and I'm looking forward to it all over again.

No special features have been announced and I'd be surprised to see any show up. Asking price is a few cents under twenty bucks, which come June probably won't even be a tenner for me and my countrymen, so I shouldn't complain.

[EDIT: Thanks to Rob, I won't have to wait anything like as long. A R2 disc is available now]

Sound And Vision In No Country For Old Men


On his official site, Carter Burwell has discussed the score to the new Coens film, No Country For Old Men, and posted two sample tracks and another still, as seen above. It's all splendid stuff.

Alongside his sample tracks A Jackpot and Blood Trail (End Titles), Burwell had this to say about the soundtrack:

The film is the quietest I've worked on. Often there is no sound but wind and boots on hard caliche or stocking feet on concrete. Then again there are shootouts involving an unknown number of shooters with shotguns and automatic weapons. It was unclear for a while what kind of score could possibly accompany this film without intruding on this raw quiet. I spoke with the Coens about either an all-percussion score or a melange of sustained tones which would blend in with the sound effects. We went the latter route.

The all-percussion score sounds like fun, and I look forward to doing it sometime, but it is such a cliche to have drums accompany "action" that this sound immediately pulled the film back into familiar territory. The sustained tones, however, kept the film unsettled. Skip Lievsay, the sound editor, and I spoke early about these approaches and he sent me some examples of processed sound effects just as I sent him examples of tone compositions, mostly sine and sawtooth waves and singing bowls. When the film is mixed the effect will be that the music comes out of and sinks back into the sound effects in a hopefully subliminal manner.

The end titles of the film raised an interesting question: the entire film takes place without songs or identifiable score, so what could play over five minutes of end titles that wouldn't be self-conscious (like wind or sine waves) or intrusive (like a pop song)? I ended up writing a tune that features the only acoustic instruments in the score, but they take quite a while to appear. The first sounds are percussion but almost sound like sound effects. The next sounds are the sustained tones which are featured in the rest of the score. Only after two minutes of this do truly familiar instruments arrive - guitar and bass - which then play to the end along with the percussion. Hopefully this somehow works with the rest of the film, although we won't really know this until we mix the film, and maybe not until much later.

Burwell's site is really quite incredible and very much worth a visit.

Maxim Misjudgement

For their March issue, Maxim have brewed up a list they're calling "The 20 Greatest Awful Movies of All Time" - but there's a little problem. You see, there's a number of films on the list that are, simply put, rather less awful than some of this year's Best Picture contenders at the Oscars.

They Live and Big Trouble in Little China give John Carpenter a couple of black marks, the latter in the number one spot. That's just ignorant.

Peter Jackson's Brain Dead / Dead Alive is listed at number 5, Starship Troopers at number 12. Again, very silly. Meet the Feebles, maybe, but Brain Dead? I'm not being glib when I call it a genuine classic.

So, Maxim... what on earth is supposed to be awful about these films?

A few mediocrities make the list too - Tango & Cash, The Beastmaster and Hard Target. Admittedly, Hard Target is the least of John Woo's work but it's not a total wash out by any means. I could name about a hundred action films that aren't one tenth as good and find a thousand more in the bibliography appendix at the back of the Hot Fuzz script.

I do wish people would stop smugly panning films on the basis of their genres, a couple of cast members, their basic iconography or milieu and get down to thinking about the quality of the filmmaking. Of course, I've been wishing that for decades, and I'm starting to think that it's never going to happen.

See the full list online and find out if there's anything else there you want to make a case for.

Neil Jordan To Kill On Carnival Row

I remember when Travis Beacham's script for A Killing on Carnival Row was first sold, and how it sounded like the film might be a tricky one to get right. The plot revolves around a serial killer in a Victorian city where most of the inhabitants are in some way enchanted or tied in to magic, many of them elves, fairies or even vampires. Essentially a rather gothic detective mystery it dripped imagery, but imagery that some well-read fantay fans might find on the border of cliche.

Thankfully, though, New Line have now attached Neil Jordan to the project. Perfect choice - particularly as Jordan is getting to do his own rewrite. He'll bring this to life in a very vibrant, three-dimensional way, I have no doubt. He'll respect both the Victoriana and the occult and fantasy elements, keeping the feeling of everything fresh and idiosyncratic - and he can easily do some very chilling murder set-pieces.

We're on for some very memorable cinema here. I'll be keeping a very close eye on the progress of Killing on Carnival Row from here on out. Wonder who Steven Rea will end up playing?

Sin City 2 Ready To Roll?

Frank Miller sez: Sin City 2 could be shooting as soon as the spring.

Well, with so many preproduction staff let go and the lead role of Ava Lord very much up in the air - neither Angelina Jolie or Rachel Weisz seems to be available in the next few months, perhaps lending much credence to the Rose McGowan tales I was told - this may be wishful thinking, or maybe just spin from Mr. Miller.

We'll see, but I personally doubt this film will be going before lenses anything like this soon.

Mr And Mrs Foxy

According to The Hollywood Reporter, George Clooney and Cate Blanchett are to provide the voices for Mr and Mrs Fox in Wes Anderson's animation/live action co-mingle, The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Surely this film was a job for Tim Burton? Have you seen his fox sketches from his time at Disney, working on The Fox and the Hound? They're worth the price of Burton on Burton alone.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bloo Cloned?



Variety sez: Steve Baker won the Tropfest top prize on Sunday with his film An Imaginary Life. Unfortunately, it has turned out to be uncannily similar to Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, and Cartoon Network lawyers are already on the case.

I doubt that Baker would be stupid or naive enough to rip off such a high profile show as Foster's Home, but the evidence seems to make a case a clear cut one, at first glance. The images posted above are of Andrew, the protagonist of Imaginary Life and Bloo, the showstealing star of Foster's. Both are imaginary friends. Both animations are Flash-style affairs.

There are plenty of differences between the stories, notably that Imaginary Life adopts a pseudo-documentary aesthetic (well, as far as an animated film can) which is very different to the graphic, classical stylings in Foster's Home.

As much as I'd hate to see Craig McCracken getting ripped off, I think Baker has done so only by accident, if at all.

Ving Rhames On Football Wives

Lucy Lawless and Kiele Sanchez joined the cast last of Football Wives week, now Ving Rhames has been added on too. He's playing the GM of one of the teams.

I'm really quite sceptical about this series, despite the Bryan Singer factor. Then again, I was really quite sceptical about NBC's version of The Office as well, and that turned out rather well indeed.

Aniston's Breasts Cause Flurry Of Legal Fist Shaking

Top tip - don't go clicking on the link in this post unless you are a) over the required legal age in your home territory b) not at work, school or the prison library and c) not offended by (apparently) semi-nude, highly-salaried one-time stars of massively successful sitcoms.

Universal have been going crazy at any websites to post the probably-very-fake image of Jennifer Aniston topless on the set of
The Break-Up. There's lawsuits a-go-go, I'm sure, but I still don't know why Ansiton wouldn't wear moleskin patches over her nipples when shooting the scene. I'm not a believer, I'm afraid.

Perhaps Aniston, Peyton Reed or Eric Edwards can speak up and silence the debate/cut off Universal's 'all publicity is good publicity' campaign.