Includes cinema reviews and trailers for upcoming films. A digest of the best and worst interviews on movies and cinema.
Is Legend, the big screen biopic about black-and-white British gangsters the Kray Twins, any good? Benjamin Lee answers that question in his review for The Guardian. He says:
It’s a disappointingly shallow take on a fascinating period of time and leaves us sorely uninformed, as if we’ve skim-read a pamphlet. The legend might live on but Legend certainly won’t.
He gave it just two stars from a possible five. The film’s marketing team saw it and slapped it on the official posters.
…in a stroke of brazen genius, the marketing department tasked with selling the shoddy true crime tale decided to embrace the mediocrity of my review and found a devious solution. Note: focus between the ears.
Stellar work from Canal Plus.
Who didn’t go to Tower Records?
Established in 1960, Tower Records was once a retail powerhouse with two hundred stores, in thirty countries, on five continents. From humble beginnings in a small-town drugstore, Tower Records eventually became the heart and soul of the music world, and a powerful force in the music industry. In 1999, Tower Records made $1 billion. In 2006, the company filed for bankruptcy. What went wrong? Everyone thinks they know what killed Tower Records: The Internet. But thats not the story. All Things Must Pass is a feature documentary film examining this iconic companys explosive trajectory, tragic demise, and legacy forged by its rebellious founder, Russ Solomon.FacebookTwitterOfficial WebsiteDirector Colin Hanks Writers Steven Leckart Actors Russ Solomon, Michael Solomon, Heidi Cotler, Mark Viducich, Stan Goman, Bob Delanoy, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, David Geffen, Dave Grohl Genre Documentary Run Time 1 hour 40 minutes Copyright to Production company
Matthew Morettini let’s us compare and contrast three screen manifestations of Hannibal Lecter with this neat video
I always preferred the 1985 Manhunter, with Brian Cox as the terrifying Lecter. Anthony Hopkins reworked the character in Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs before Mads Mikkelsen appeared as the psychopath in the TV series Hannibal.
Take a look at the video. Which one do you prefer?
James Bond is a bit of wally, says Daniel Craig, the latest actor to make the character from Ian Felming’s books flesh and blood.
Craig has been talking to Esquire 007 in readiness for Spectre, the latest Bond outing:
“Austin Powers fucked it. By the time we did Casino Royale, [Mike Myers] had blown every joke apart. We were in a situation where you couldn’t send things up. It had gone so far post-modern it wasn’t funny any more.
The new Bond has “truth“, says Craig.
“He’s very fucking lonely. There’s a great sadness. He’s fucking these beautiful women but then they leave and it’s . . . sad. And as a man gets older it’s not a good look. It might be a nice fantasy — that’s debatable — but the reality, after a couple of months…
“[For a while] I did feel like, ‘I’ve got to look like I’m doing other stuff.’ But then it was, ‘Who for?’ So the public think, ‘Ooh, isn’t he versatile?’ [On Spectre] it was like, ‘I’m James Bond, for f***’s sake.’ It’s not a bad position to be in. I used to get asked all the time, ‘Don’t you worry that you’re going to get typecast?’ ‘And?’ I mean, talk about a high-class problem.”
Read it all here.
The Human Centipede pipe, by Dustin Yunker, is the ‘hot box’ tribute to the film of that name. We’re not sure what end goes to your lips; but our therapist assures us that which end you choose will say a lot about you.
Northern Stars Wars directed by Ken Loach.
Ice Cube hails his new film STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON by responding to reacting to the Rap Genius interpretations.
Those good people at Disinfo point us towards Future Shock, the film based on Alvin Toffler’s 1970 book. Released in 1972, Orson Welles narrates.
Alvin Toffler notes:
“We may define future shock as the distress, both physical and psychological, that arises from an overload of the human organism’s physical adaptive systems and its decision-making processes… Put more simply, future shock is the human response to over-stimulation…”
This is Future Shock…
In 1975, Orson Welles edited a scence from the porno movie 3 A.M.
Josh Karp spotted the master’s work in researching his book Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind. He says Welles “wound up editing a hard-core lesbian shower scene that he couldn’t resist cutting in Wellesian fashion with low camera angles and other trademark flair.”
Welles knew his porn:
Owen Wilson likes to say “Wow”. If the script contains enough ‘wow’, Owen Wilson is in. Had William Shakespeare wrote “Wow, to be or not to be” or ‘Wow is that a dagger?”, Wilson would have been a fine stage actor.
As it is, he just comes across as a man playing himself on camera.
As Star Wars: Episode VII gets ready to hit the silver screen, you can listen to what it was like watching the first film in 1977. Youtuber William Forsche recorded his trip to the movies 18 years ago. He writes:
“You can also hear me making laser beam sounds at the end of this recording, because Star Wars got me all fired up!”
Is anyone as excited about this film?
This is just brilliant. Listeners to the BBC World Service’s World Have Your Say show were introduced to Godfrey Elfwick, a student from Sheffield talking about the lastest Star Wars franchise, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Force Awakens. Godfrey says the character “Dark Raider” is “racial stereotype”.
Godfrey Elfwick is a work of parody. Having said on twitter that he’d never seen Star Wars, the BBC got in touch:
Did Angela do any research? If she did, she must have missed Godfrey’s other tweets, like these:
Godfrey pricked the knowing liberal bubble with a skewer:
Brilliant. Just brilliant…
(PS: is he the only work of parody in that clip?)
Batman v Superman – Retro style:
‘Music to shiver by’ might be the name of John Carpenter’s album of Lost Themes. The man who thrilled us with his Halloween and these overlooked gems inspired directors Gavin Hignight and Ben Verhulst to put pictures to Carpenter’s tune Night.
Hignight pays tribute to the master of sinister synth:
“Upon hearing NIGHT by John Carpenter my head was instantly filled with these nighttime highway road dreamscapes. Someone or something, haunted, traveling the road alone in the late hours.
“Our goal was to take that feeling and put it into a video that paid tribute to the film work of Carpenter but at the same time gave him a new world to play in… in this case literally through Virtual Reality.”
It’s Oscar season. And gearing up for the movie biz’s AGM, are Mike Kleton and Morgan Miller with their “Mobarazzi” star maker. New Yorkers are now all the beautiful people…
Shit First Drafts has “found a couple of drafts of the Fifty Shades of Grey script”:
What does America think of the Baftas, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards? A look at the New York Times tells us the anwer is not very much. Or nothing.
One night after British acting’s AGM, and the NYT’s Arts section features not a single story on them awards.
It might be hard luck that the Baftas are staged on the night of the Grammy Awards. But it’s lamentable that Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul ‘DNA’ is bigger news.
We love dolls, or action figures (as you macho lads call them). We’ve seen the weirdest celebrity dolls of all time. We’ve seen dead dolls. And we’ve spliced and diced more Barbies then you can shake a nagging finger at.
On Imgur, Uh Jess shows has been makin his own dolls. He’s taken Barbie (always Barbie gets it) and turning them into David Bowie, as seen in the 1986 film Labyrinth.
The clunking dialogue. The ability to fold yourself in half and turn your partner into an origami swan. The hands made for w***ing and clutching a ‘martial sex aide’. Yeah. 50 Shades of Grey was made with Lego in mind:
In making American Sniper, Bradley Cooper transformed into Chris Kyle, hero of the Clint Eastwood movie about the late Navy SEAL:
“Walsh added that Cooper didn’t just use his workouts to create the right look for the role. He used them as a springboard to transform into Chris Kyle. The intensity of the workouts got him into the right frame of mind. Cooper would often place a picture of Kyle on the wall of the gym and he blasted Kyle’s personal playlist during workouts, listening to the kind of music that defined Kyle, everything from Metallica and Slipknot to Toby Keith. . . . Bradley Cooper started the program at 186 pounds and ended at 225 with roughly the same percent body fat. By the end of the program, he was performing rack pulls with 425 pounds for 10 reps.”
Cooper’s an actor. What about the real thing?
This isn’t the defining film of the Iraq War. After nearly a quarter century of war and occupation in Iraq, we still haven’t seen that film. I’m beginning to think we’re incapable as a nation of producing a film of that magnitude, one that would explore the civilian experience of war, one that might begin to approach so vast and profound a repository of knowledge. I’m more and more certain that, if such a film film ever arrives, it’ll be made by Iraqi filmmakers a decade or more from now, and it’ll be little known or viewed, if at all, on our shores. The children of Iraq have far more to teach me about the war I fought in than any film I’ve yet seen — and I hope some of those children have the courage and opportunity to share their lessons onscreen. If this film I can only vaguely imagine is ever made, it certainly won’t gross $100 million on its opening weekend.
The biggest problem I have with American Sniper is also a problem I have with myself.
It’s a problem I sometimes find in my own work, and it’s an American problem: We don’t see, or even try to see, actual Iraqi people. We lack the empathy necessary to see them as fully human. In American Sniper, Iraqi men, women, and children are known and defined only in relation to combat and the potential threat they pose. Their bodies are the site and source of violence. In both the film and our collective imagination, their humanity is reduced in ways that, ultimately, define our own narrow humanity. In American Sniper, Iraqis are called “savages,” and the “streets are crawling” with them. Eastwood and his screenwriter Jason Hall give Iraqis no memorable lines. Their interior lives are a blank canvas, with no access points to let us in. I get why that is: If Iraqis are seen in any other light, if their humanity is recognized, then the construct of our imagination, the ride-off-into-the-sunset-on-a-white-horse story we tell ourselves to push forward, falls apart.If we saw Iraqis as humans, we’d have to learn how to live in a world far, far more complicated and painful than the difficult, painful one we currently live in.
The movie is not real. It’s made to entertain. If you get your news from Hollywood, then you’re not that into news:
The news Ghostbusters movie is an all-female affair. It’s going to be fan-tastic. Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray were at the top of their games when the first Ghostbusters film hit the big screens. But who needs them when you have a script like this?
Spotter and scriptwriter: Sean Mullins
Hollwyood has run dry of ideas when you get the third film Ghostsbusters made with an all-female cast. The Hollywood Reporter notes:
Melissa McCarthy, who was already in talks for one of the leads, has signed on for the Paul Feig-directed reboot, and the studio is now negotiating with Kristen Wiig, as well as “Saturday Night Live” players Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon…
CNN spots that naysayers:
As some of the Twitterati accused the ladies-led “Ghostbusters” concept of being a “gimmick,” Feig swiftly responded, “Interesting how making a movie with men in the lead roles is normal but making a movie with women in the lead roles is a ‘gimmick.’ #its2014.”
Hitchcock’s 1972 Frenzy Is One Of The Least Festive Films Ever Made…
The BBC2’s decision to screen Alfred Hichcock’s Frenzy at 12.05am on the second of January, five minutes after the end of the holiday season is brutally appropriate, as it is without doubt one of the least festive films ever made.
Frenzy tells the story of a London serial killer dubbed the ‘Necktie Strangler’, and from the start there are references to Jack the Ripper and John Christie. The part was intended for Michael Caine, who thought it was disgusting and turned it down.
Obama and the FBI blame the hacking attacks against Sony Pictures on North Korea. Who knew the DPRK regime was capable? The hacks were triggered by the The Interview, in which two American journalists played by James Franco and Seth Rogen set out to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Amid threats of movie theater terrorism, Sony pulled the film from its Christmas Day release.
Reactions have been many:
The whole Sony story has a certain twisted dark comedy flavor with CEO Michael Lynton bickering with Obama over the release of what is said to be an unwatchable movie. It sure looks that way from the trailers. If the NORKS had any brains, they should just have let the film be released and it would have sunk like a stone. But perhaps they had other intentions — or someone did — beyond making fun of inane Hollywood studio executives or even silencing a movie.
The cyber attack on the studio has a serious side and it’s not really about North Korea. It’s about who helped North Korea, the assumption being that the NORKS don’t quite have the technical expertise to pull this off by themselves. Russia, China and Iran are the three candidates whose names have been thrown into the hopper as possible co-perps — maybe more than one of them.
Hollywood came to the Rev. Al Thursday as embattled Sony exec Amy Pascal met privately with the black leader for 90 minutes in a bid to fix the fallout from the cyberhacking leak of embarrassing, racially charged emails.
Pascal agreed to let Sharpton have a say in how Sony makes motion pictures, in an effort to combat what he called “inflexible and immovable racial exclusion in Hollywood.”
“We have agreed to having a working group deal with the racial bias and lack of diversity in Hollywood,” said Sharpton.
One important point in the President’s remarks today: a potentially ominous nod to the need for more regulation and control over the internet. The internet now is like “the Wild West,” he said, “We need more rules about how the internet should operate.” Cybersecurity is an urgent issue, and the Sony hacks underscore that, said the president. But when heads of state talk about more state control over the internet, rarely does greater freedom of speech result.
The only problem: At least one cable company preemptively surrendered to North Korean intimidation, too, reportedly saying it would not air the film. Now, even if Sony had a backbone transplant, it couldn’t release the movie.
Sony could still dump it on the Internet and let it spread virally. It would lose ticket sales, but the company would strike a defiant blow nonetheless.
Don’t hold your breath. Sony would rather go the way of appeasement. And so would everyone else, it seems.
For Pascal, 56, and Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton, 54, the damage has gotten far worse as the flood of stolen material — including both of their email inboxes — keeps coming, and on Dec. 16, the hackers, dubbed Guardians of Peace, threatened a 9/11-style attack on theaters that show Seth Rogen’s North Korea assassination comedy The Interview. Pascal, the lead creative executive on Interview, tells THR she believes she has the backing of her Tokyo-based employers. But by now, high-level insiders have moved from speculating about whether she will be replaced to asking when and by whom.
The James Flacco Name Generator
At a press conference on Friday, President Obama said Sony made “a mistake” by canceling the release of The Interview. He also praised the film’s stars Seth Rogen and James … Flacco? If, like actor James Franco, you want a new last name—one you can share with an NFL quarterback—then use our name generator below.
What I wonder is why people aren’t a little more put off by a form of censorship that is more insidious, and will likely affect far more movies in the long run: the soft censorship of appealing to the Chinese government in order to reap the Chinese box office. There have been widespread claims that recent blockbuster movies like the latest Transformers have been written so as to appease Chinese censors. There’s nothing wrong with writing movies to reach out to a particularly huge foreign box office– why wouldn’t you want your movie to play to Chinese moviegoers?– but appealing to the Chinese government is a whole other ball of wax. That’s where you can see genuine self-censorship coming in. And while I imagine that this whole thing will blow over before long, without a great deal of long-term damage, I think the urge to play in China -and for the Chinese government — will only grow over time.
The problem of willingly selling out to the Chinese reminded me of Ayn Rand, whose bracing moral lessons I’m sure Freddie had in the back of his mind. Rand’s finest novel,The Fountainhead, is an anti-capitalist screed about the spiritual and cultural evil of catering to market demand. Forget the problem of giving the commie censors what they want. It’s wrong to give the free market what it wants, when what it wants is aesthetically debased, which it always is. The architect hero of The Fountainhead, Howard Roark, is the ultimate in spine, the patron saint of never selling out. When one of his perfect, austere modernist buildings is bowdlerized the better to suit the public taste, he blows it up. That’s right, Howard Roark is a terrorist, a jihadi for artistic integrity. Maybe Howard Roark is the answer. Maybe can show us the way. Maybe Sony needs to feel that it is unsafe not to release The Interview. Maybe Seth Rogen needs to blow something up! Or maybe Brian Beutler is on to something, and the best we can do is call on Anonymous to steal the movie and make sure that, in this case at least, market-based American spinelessness can’t put a gag on our precious stoner auteurs.
Sony is a for-profit entity, and not even an American one, that effectively has important influence over American culture. We don’t entrust for-profit entities with the common defense. And recognizing that the threat to a Sony picture is actually a threat to the freedom of American culture ought to lead us to a public rather than a private solution.
The federal government should take financial responsibility. Either Washington should guarantee Sony’s financial liability in the event of an attack, or it should directly reimburse the studio’s projected losses so it can release the movie online for free. The latter solution has the attractive benefit of ensuring a far wider audience for the film than it would otherwise have attracted.
After Sony Pictures announced yesterday that it was pulling the release of The Interview, a film about two American journalists sent to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, from its scheduled Christmas Day release after threats of movie theater terrorism, several theaters across the U.S. said that they would show Team America: World Police instead.
The basic idea was to replace one movie mocking the North Korean regime with another. Team America, an all-puppet comedy from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, pits its heroes against a sad-sack version of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. At the end of the movie, he’s impaled on a giant spike, and it’s revealed that he’s actually an alien cockroach. Fitting!..
The Daily Beastreports that theaters in Cleveland and Atlanta that had planned to make the switch say that Paramount, the studio behind Team America, has ordered them to stop. The Alamo Drafthouse in Texas, which also planned to show the puppet comedy, announced on Twitter this afternoon that due to “circumstances beyond our control” its Team America screening has been cancelled…. blocking replacement screenings of Team America can really only be described as next-level cowardly bullshit.
Sony was just the latest – Janice Turner:
Not only has Paramount pulled Team America, a decade-old puppet comedy parodying Kim Jong Un’s father, but a Steve Carell movie based upon the graphic novel Pyongyang. This is no comic, but an account by Guy Delisle of his time as an animator in a North Korean studio, constantly monitored by minders yet getting glimpses of the regime in all its absurdity and horror. This is a film that needed to be made.
And when the Sony cave-in was announced, Carell tweeted a still from The Great Dictator. It is an apt comparison: Charlie Chaplin’s devastating and humane 1940 parody did not bring down Hitler but it gave succour to those who were trying. Such was its propaganda value that while it was in production and Britain was still pursuing appeasement, the government planned to ban it for fear of riling the Führer. It was inspired by Chaplin watching Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will: while other anti-Nazis were awed and dismayed by its grandiosity, Chaplin fell about laughing…
…too often, the response to any threat has been cowardice and complicity. Hollywood just behaved like the entire British establishment which dropped Salman Rushdie after The Satanic Verses rather than turning on his illiberal persecutors. And even now Newsnight refuses to show an affectionate Jesus and Mo cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad, siding with Salafist extremists rather than moderate Muslims who argued the image was inoffensive.
What if one of America’s violent anti-choice groups threatens cinemas showing a film in which a woman has abortion? Will we capitulate every time the lawyers get nervous? Because Sony Pictures just put artistic freedom in turnaround. And this is no joke.
Free speech has been under attack for an age. North Korea was just picking up the vibe…