The Big Screen Bulletin 08.24.09: The White Basterd is Back
Posted by Chad Webb on 08.24.2009
All the updates on the "Shutter Island" delay, new on Zemeckis' "Yellow Submarine" remake, Bryan Singer's next project, a Nether Regions installment with "Phantasm II", tons of new trailer ratings, loads of quickees, and much more!
Nether Regions will be on ongoing segment of the Bulletin that showcases film that have been discontinued on DVD, are out of print in the United States, are only available in certain regions outside the United States, or are generally hard to find. You might ask "Why should I care about a film I have no access to?" My goal is to keep these films relevant because some of them genuinely deserve to be recognized. Every time I review a new film I will have a list of those I covered below so you can see if they have been announced for DVD release, or are still out of print.
Starring: James LeGros, Reggie Bannister, and Angus Scrimm Written and Directed By: Don Coscarelli Theatrical Release Date: July 8, 1988 Missing Since: The Mid 1990's Existing Formats: Bootlegs and Used VHS Netflix Status: Not Available Availability: Limited unless you attend conventions
For Region 1 fans of the Phantasm franchise, the time is arriving where your DVD collection can finally be complete. Well, at least that's the plan anyway. Some of you might have lost hope long ago for the release of Phantasm II, and decided to seek it out as a bootleg. Dealers at conventions will soon cry though as the film is set for release in September after so many years of being unavailable. In truth, bootleg dealers sell the same stuff well after they have been released on DVD. In other regions, a cool "ball" box set is sold, but not in the US. Whether it was the opinion of the studio that the movie was not intensely sought after, or perhaps the trouble with distribution rights, the fact is Phantasm II has eluded collectors for a long time, while the other three installments of the series have had no such problems.
The question arises, is the film worth all this hassle? For completists, the answer is yes. I am a relatively new viewer of this franchise, and refused to watch Phantasm III and Phantasm IV: Oblivion until I unearthed a copy of II first. After I was finished watching the elusive sequel, the belief that this franchise is only noteworthy because of the balls, was reaffirmed. Despite a few cool kill scenes, Phantasm II is a weak film, and an even worse follow-up to the first film. I fear the rare status of the title may have altered people's viewpoints on how satisfactory the actual film is. We shall see in a month or so what today's crop of reviewers think of the film. But I am one step ahead of them.
The story takes place approximately 9 years after the events of the first movie. The beginning is rather perplexing and odd as we are introduced to Liz (Paula Irvine), a young girl with some sort of dumb psychic bond to Mike (James LeGros). She is afraid that when her Grandfather dies, the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) will take him. Not only does she know about the Tall Man, but she is aware of everything that happened to Mike in the first Phantasm. So, no matter what, viewers must endure almost 10 minutes of flashbacks from the previous excursion. Meanwhile, Mike has been institutionalized, but pretends to be healed so he can get free and find Liz, whom he's been having visions about. Ahhh, the old plea for freedom from the mental institution sequence. I have seen it in so many movies, and it is never enthralling. It always looks the same.
The majority of the first 30 minutes is told through narration. We get narration from Liz, narration from Mike, and narration from Reggie (Reggie Bannister). That's right, Reggie is back, and he was talking to doctors too, and catches Mike in the act of digging up graves, all of which are empty. On the way to Reggie's house, Mike goes nuts from a vision of the house blowing up. It actually happens, and his warning is too late, so Reggie's family is killed. It doesn't take him very long to get over this, and flirt with a hitchhiker chick half his age. So Reggie agrees to hunt the Tall Man and Liz. Cue multiple shots of driving on desert roads with gratuitous voice overs. Mike and Reg concur that informing the authorities would have them both thrown in the psych ward again. Fine, but wouldn't the cops be a bit more understanding when whole towns become eradicated? You see, the two of them drive through towns which are destroyed. Apparently, no one noticed.
Before I delve further into this Hitchcockian plot, I must address the recasting of Mike. A. Michael Baldwin portrayed Mike in the first film, and he was replaced by James LeGros for the sequel. I appreciated how Baldwin looked like a normal kid, and acted like one for the most part. LeGros does not resemble Baldwin at all. He is a bad actor and he looks like a guy who stepped out of Tiger Beat. Paralleling his goofball antics is Reggie Bannister, who simply cannot deliver a line here without inducing laughter from the audience. His narration is among the worst I've heard. Nevertheless, the two engage in a rad weapons gathering sequence. However, they are alone, and can get away scot free, but they leave money? These are respectable nutjobs folks. Paula Irvine is Liz, and she did not bother me. It was the confusing aspects of her character that I hated. Angus Scrimm is the Tall Man of course. Worst villain name ever.
Basically the rest of the story follows this duo, and eventually trio, as they try to take down the Tall Man and his legion of hooded midget corpses. It takes a strange tangent towards the middle with a priest, played annoyingly by Kenneth Tiger, as he attempts to stop the transformations of the bodies. Initially, we are never quite sure what Father Meyers' deal is. Tiger chews scenery with the best of 'em. When Liz and Mike find each other, they are instantly infatuated with one another, which is patently absurd. On a side note, one of my pet peeves pops up as the Tall Man merely throws Liz against the wall instead of killing her. Gotta love those supernatural villains that need to work up to slaying their prey. You even witness a Freddy Kreuger like vision when a version of the Tall Man comes out of someone's back!
Forgiving every other flaw Phantasm II has, the most glaring and aggravating is the fact that Writer/Director Don Coscarelli does not expand upon this universe at all. This sequel is simply more of the same sludge. I have so many questions about the Tall Man's universe, that it could fill a book. Coscarelli's script is dull and uninspiring. Most of what occurs is obvious and predictable from the first 5 minutes. Furthermore, the bizarre sex scene with Reggie Bannister having his bald head caressed and kissed left me with mental scars. I have seen most of Coscarelli's efforts by this point, and his best remains Bubba Ho-Tep. I wasn't crazy about The Beastmaster, and Phantasm is a 3 star affair at max.
Two moments stick out in Phantasm II. All of the ball kills, especially that of the gold ball, are awesome. I read that the gold ball was referred to as the "Rambo" ball because of the way it kills. The other is the chainsaw battle between Reg and some masked thug. Other than that though, the movie is irritating and lousily made with a conclusion that is totally unoriginal. I truly hope the movie is released on DVD, so we don't have to worry about it any longer.
BOX OFFICE TOP TEN
1. Inglourious Basterds - $37.6 million ($37.6 million)
2. District 9 - $18.9 million ($73.4 million)
3. G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra - $12.5 million ($120.5 million)
4. The Time Traveler's Wife - $10 million ($37.4 million)
5. Julie & Julia - $9 million ($59.2 million)
6. Shorts - $6.6 million ($6.6 million)
7. G-Force - $4.2 million ($107.3 million)
8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - $3.5 million ($290.2 million)
9. The Ugly Truth - $2.85 million ($82.8 million)
10. Post-Grad - $2.8 million ($2.8 million)
I figured Inglorious Basterds would get #1, but I never imagined it would get $65 million for its worldwide gross. Good for QT. The remaining top 10 is fairly standard. Shorts did not crack the top 5, and that is a big disappointment for QT's buddy Rodriguez, but the film was marketed in a way that did not make it seem very interesting. Post-Grad barely made the list, which is not a shocker, while Dsitrict 9 and G.I. Joe continue to do well in their spots. The same goes for Julie & Julia and The Time Traveler's Wife. Next week we have a showdown of two horror sequels, and they are Halloween II and The Final Destination. I do not think Michael Meyers will be beaten though. Look for him to be victorious.
Shutter Island's Problems
Paramount Pictures has pushed back director Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" from October 2nd to February 19th according to Deadline Hollywood Daily. Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane ("Mystic River"), Shutter Island is the story of two U.S. marshals, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), who are summoned to a remote and barren island off the cost of Massachusetts to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a murderess from the island's fortress-like hospital for the criminally insane.
The move comes as a big surprise as many expected the film could be up for Oscar contention considering its pedigree, it had the weekend to itself with no major challenger, and early test screening reaction yielded strong reviews. So why do it? The site initially reported that distributor Paramount Pictures told the filmmakers that it didn't have the financing to market such a picture at the $50-60M it would cost them, and later added that DiCaprio would not be available at the time to do international promotion.
Soon after Paramount Chief Brad Grey released a statement essentially blaming the bad economy for the delay and to boost an otherwise rather thin 2010 slate. That latter reasoning somewhat makes sense as for now the studio's slate simply consists of Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant", Peter Jackson's "The Lovely Bones", Dreamworks Animation's "How To Train Your Dragon" and two long-delayed horror films - "Case 39" and "Carriers" - to sustain them between now and "Iron Man 2" next May. The move also leaves the October 2nd 2009 release date free and clear with at least one or two projects expected to quickly fill in the gap. The weekends of September 18th, October 9th and October 16th are currently overcrowded with releases, so it's likely that two or three of those titles will move in.
-From Dark Horizons
Well, this certainly sucks, but when I first heard of this, my first thought was that this was a money thing. Many will now think that the new February slot means the film is poor. I refuse to believe that a Martin Scorsese film with Max Von Sydow is so bad that it needs a February release date. This is simply Paramount making sure the make the most cash, and that is a shame. The question is, many studios release the film for a week so it is eligible for Oscar nominations. If they avoid this, it will be the biggest mistake Paramount has ever made. Scorsese's last effort won Best Picture, and the two before that were nominated for Best Picture. Why hinder a man that is on a roll? Plus, what many have failed to see is that studios are trying to change the aura surrounding January, February, and March for films. Many films released during that time are getting solid reviews and are making money. This is still upsetting though. I was greatly anticipating a dose of Scorsese this fall.
Zemeckis Has a Yellow Submarine
Robert Zemeckis is in negotiations to direct a 3D performance capture remake of The Beatles 1968 animated cult hit "Yellow Submarine" for Disney Pictures says Variety. The original followed a soldier called Old Fred who meets up with the Beatles and travels in a yellow submersible to Pepperland. Among the group's encounters are the Blue Meanies, music-hating creatures. Disney is trying to acquire the rights to the music to the film including such Beatles classics as "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "With a Little Help From My Friends." The studio also plans to spin-off the production into a Broadway musical and a Cirque du Soleil stage production. The studio aims to have the film ready in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
-From Dark Horizons
Before I went on vacation I talked about great filmmakers making some foolish decisions. Luckily the movie gods spoke and the Spielberg Harvey remake won't happen, but this seems like an unnecessary detour for Zemeckis. I appreciate the performance capture films he's done so far, but a remake of such a trippy film seems odd. The original film was very entertaining, and included a lot of puns, double entendres, and in-jokes. Occasionally the adventure got lost in the animation, but that was ok. How would a remake create the same effect with performance capture technology? If you want to make a Beatles film using the band's classic songs, terrific, but make an original one. It would seem wiser to take that route than revisit a film so distinctive.
Singer Handles Excalibur
Bryan Singer could soon turn his hand to the remake business, with the helmer close to developing and possibly directing a new version of King Arthur epic Excalibur for Warner Bros. The 1981 original was a gritty take on the Knights of the Round Table, directed by John Boorman and starring Gabriel Byrne, Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson and Helen Mirren. According to Variety, Warner recently obtained what rights they didn't have from Boorman himself, with Singer now looking for a writer to pen the screenplay. Were he to helm however, it's unclear where Excalibur would fit into Singer's busy schedule, with the in-demand director mulling over several gigs, including James the Giant Killer, X-Men: First Class and franchise reboot Battlestar Gallactica.
Like Robin Hood, and I'm sure many other classic tales, King Arthur gets the remake treatment automatically every few years. I suppose Boorman's film is the best version of the tale thus far. It was worthwhile in my book, but far from great. The Antoine Fuqua version was mediocre, and all others have faded away. Bryan Singer, a filmmaker with talent he hasn't discovered yet, should pick better material. IMDB does not list anything about James and the Giant Peach or X-Men: First Class. The problem with the Arthur story is no filmmaker can decide what to focus on. The story has so much going on between drama, romance, and action, and for most filmmakers, it is hard to juggle. If he does choose to do it, I say go all out, and make it long and epic. I'm not saying that would work, but it seems the best direction to take.
The 20 Second Sermon
Blockbuster plans to introduce an online video player that will function only on select Motorola cellphones that will give consumers access to its on-demand service. I sat this move is too little and too late for Blockbuster. The company is suffering massive dips in money, and they can't last much longer. How will this change anything? Time Warner has reached an agreement with YouTube that will allow clips of its movies and TV programming to appear on the video service. This is a wise move, and I'm certain more studios will follow this lead. YouTube will be around for awhile. Why not make the best of it? Legendary Pictures plan to make a biopic of Jimi Hendrix, but the rights deal has not been cemented yet. What, the 2000 TV film starring Wood Harris and Billy Zane wasn't enough? Without access to his archives, there is no point. Zachary "Spock" Quinto says that a script for Star Trek 2 is being worked on, but nothing is official yet. Oh boy, here we go with rumors for another 2 years.
The DVD Release Rundown for August 25th
DVD Headline of the Week
WWE: The Rise and Fall of WCW - This is a must buy for wrestling fans. Even though we may already own some of the matches, the documentary should be worth the purchase alone. However, from what I have read this contains some hidden jewels we have all been pining for.
Duplicity - Writer/Director Tony Gilroy's newest film has an enthralling smugness in the vein of the Ocean's trilogy, but it goes overboard. While Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, and the superb supporting cast were all terrific, the plot holes are gaping, and impossible to ignore in this cleverly disguised espionage film. Borrow
Sunshine Cleaning - This is one that sadly passed me by. I will definitely be renting it though because I love me some Amy Adams.
Fighting - Director/Co-Writer Dito Montiel just does not have any original ideas. He also fails to elicit an even halfway decent performance from dope Channing Tatum. The plot here is tired, the fight scenes are horribly edited, and for some reason this wants to be an arthouse flick. Also, no character development. Forgettable
The Complete Billy Jack Collection - This one is long overdue. I have been waiting to see all these movies for years now, but the previous box sets have been out of print and rare. I have seen the 2nd installment, and was not a fan, but I am anxious to catch the whole series.
The Informers - Based on the novel from Bret Easton Ellis, the same dude who wrote The Rules of Attraction and American Psycho, this film was in limited theaters for a couple weeks and disappeared. It received poor reviews, and I have little interest in seeing it.
Goodbye Solo - I loved Director Ramin Bahrani's Chop Shop, and am greatly anticipating this DVD release. The film was in theaters, but I missed it then because I suck. Oh well, better late than never. Remember this filmmaker's name. He is on the rise.
Rudo y Cursi - This comedy, reuniting Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, has numerous parts that made me laugh out loud, and the soccer narration was terrific, but the story becomes cliché by showing the consequences of fame. It is not original enough to remember unfortunately, but Carlos Cuaron has potential as a director. Borrow
The Last Days of Disco - Criterion Collection - This is from Whit Stillman, and stars Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. It completes a loosely connected trilogy following Metropolitan and Barcelona. Anything with that title, released by Criterion, is a definite rental for me at least. Disco blows.
Trouble with Water - From the producers of Fahrenheit 9/11 comes this Oscar nominated documentary about Hurricane Katrina. I think Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke covers enough for me, but I'd see this too.
Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir - Criterion Collection - This set follows a group of quirky crime films from Nikkatsu, one of the oldest studios in Japan. The titles are as follows: I Am Waiting, Rusty Knife, Take Aim at the Police Van, Cruel Gun Story, and A Colt is My Passport. The titles have me intrigued for sure.
Nights and Weekends - This is saved on my Netflix, but I can't remember why, or who suggested the film. This is odd, but perhaps I should still see it.
The Critic's Quickee
G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra - This summer has provided so many blockbuster sized duds. This ranks right along side Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and slightly below X-Men Origins: Wolverine. How anyone could say it is better than Batman & Robin in terms of laughable awfulness is beyond me. Those rumors of Director Stephen Sommers being banned from the editing room have a more truthful ring to them now. The acting was uniformly horrid with random members of the cast doing only bad, which is just a notch above horrid. The action was so absurd, and the suits of the Joe's basically gave the filmmakers the excuse to do anything they wanted. The ending is more in the vein of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li in that it prepares for a sequel, but for Hollywood to greenlight any more of this drivel is a crime against humanity. Hey, I played with the toys as much as the next guy, but some of us need to stop helping this trash skate on reputation alone. To be honest, I wish I had played with Gem toys. Final Rating = 2.0/10.0
(500) Days of Summer - This is very much the popular indy hit of the year, like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine before it. This was a sweet, good-natured, and fun little film that overshadows Joseph Gordon-Levitt's horrendous work in G.I. Joe even if this was released first. Director Marc Webb takes a very ordinary love story and injects some twists of unique flavor to it. One great scene utilized a split-screen effect as we see a character's expectations and the reality. Zooey Deschanel looks about as beautiful as she ever could here. You really understand why she is so sought after in the story, and Deschanel herself makes up for The Happening with this and Yes Man. This has many similarities to Annie Hall, but not excessively so. It also includes some terrific music for the soundtrack, which I recommend checking out. I would not afford it the masterful praise some critics have, but I'd certainly rate it "Buyable" on my scale, and urge you all to see it because it has cracked the top 10 recently for box office totals. Final Rating = 8.5/10.0
Cold Souls - This is definitely a film to see if you're complaining about the lack of originality in Hollywood. Paul Giamatti plays a version of himself here as an actor who needs a change in order to perform the play Uncle Vanya. He decides to try a new medical treatment that extracts his soul, and so begins a very funny, moving, and thought-provoking tale about how we change without our soul, or with someone else's. I cannot spoil too much of the plot, but it raises some wonderful questions, and even has some metaphorical messages about how far we take our science and medical breakthroughs sometimes. David Straitharn does not play himself, but he is outstanding either way as the man who has introduced the treatment to the world. The film could have taken so many wrong turns, but it didn't. It stayed on a track that will help it age in the future. Director Sophie Barthes reinforces why this is a great year for female filmmakers. Her sense of pacing takes a little time to get smooth, but she has a knack for tone, mood, and eye-catching visuals. This is her feature debut, but she has a bright future. This is similar to Charlie Kaufman's work, but not too much. It is not nearly as quirky, but even if it was too similar to Kaufman, that wouldn't be a bad thing, would it? This is a film that shows once more why Paul Giamatti is such an excellent actor. You all should see this. Final Rating = 8.5
District 9 - It seems like the hype for this film was level for awhile, and then a week or two before the release date, it just surged. I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable action thriller. It has all the facets a blockbuster should. It is intelligent, entertaining, and even compelling at times. However, it is neither a classic, nor one of the best films of the year if you ask me. The movie takes a few risks. The main one is the docudrama style it begins with. This is fine, but then Director Neill Blomkamp veers away from the interviews and such, and doesn't really return fully until the end. If you are going to use this style, it should be better balanced. Secondly, while I liked this film and Cloverfield, which District 9 has some similarities with, both use this documentary technique, yet suffer from the same problem. This style, if not used properly, is only riveting the first time you see it, or in the theater. After that, the excitement fades, and furthermore, both of those films take themselves a bit too seriously. District 9 doesn't suffer from this as heavily as Cloverfield, but you can still tell at times. Also, when the worlds are not explored as profoundly as they should be, you have a standard action flick. This has a political subtext, and I appreciated that, but Roger Ebert makes a point when he describes it as a "Space opera that avoids the higher realms of science fiction." It wants to be more of a blockbuster than an allegory. Ebert's writing might be suffering in terms of grammatical errors, but he still knows his shit. I thought the alien weapons made for some eye-popping action sequences. They were brilliantly constructed. The acting varies. Some people are over the top, like the pro-wrestler-esque soldier, and others aim for a more organic approach like Sharlto Copley, who does a magnificent job. The film runs along regular, but really kicks things into gear in the final stretch, which leaves you with this sort of "wow" feeling. I must admit the fact that humans could understand alien language and vice versa bothered me because it is never explained how. The special effects are also excellent. Neill Blomkamp has a bright future ahead of him, and I think this is the start he needed. Halo would have been a rough beginning for him. This was a solid, exhilarating experience, but I think that some of the glowing praise stems from the fact that this is a breath of fresh air during a summer filled with many action movies that were duds. Final Rating = 8.0/10.0
The Time Traveler's Wife - So, a little rant before I address the film. It really is frustrating to talk with guys about romance movies because the majority of them go out of their way to act stubborn about it, as if liking one will rid them of their manhood. The most common argument I hear is always the laziest, which is: It is so full of clichés! Now, I have to say, if you are watching romantic films and still complaining about clichés, you need to see more. Almost all of them have clichés. You know why? Because there are only so many ways to tell a love story. If I ask "Well, what romances do you like?", chances are this will immediately display their hypocrisy. A prime example is a movie I just watched called (500) Days of Summer. It is receiving overwhelming praise, and if anyone says it has no clichés, they are idiots. The story is very ordinary and normal, so what makes the difference? The actors, and their chemistry, for starters. It just irks me when all these guys are not consistent with their complaints. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I do try to be consistent, and when one criticizes a romance for every single cliché, and then tries to defend some of the putrid action and horror films we have with loads of clichés, it kills me. I'm not ranting because I think The Time Traveler's Wife is a masterpiece or anything, but I hear the same complaints over and over again about films like He's Just Not That into You and >The Notebook for instance.
Now, on to the film. I was torn going into this because I love the leads, Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, but it has similarities to The Lake House, a film I hated. I enjoyed this film though because McAdams and Bana have such terrific chemistry. Here's the thing. Most people will look at one thing and use it to say the movie sucks, and that is the holes in the time travelling. I am sure they exist, but they do explain a few things, and they try to make it seem natural. The key is you have to accept that aspect of the plot, and once you do, the strengths of the story become apparent. Now, the ending here is predictable, but they tell you that in the middle of the film, and I appreciated that. The Lake House did not. Director Robert Schwentke does a fine job integrating the time traveling into the romance, but making the love of the couple stand out. His remake of The Lady Vanishes, Flighplan was also a solid flick. My fiancée told me about the book and the explicit sexual encounters. Too bad we didn't get to see Rachel McAdams in any of those, but she is gorgeous here, and her performance is genuine and heartfelt. Bana's character of Henry is who the film focuses on, and what I liked was that Henry is a very flawed human being. Some of the things he does are very bad, but he has a woman that loves him. That is the key. The ending was good because it was not overly depressing, and although the logic has some issues, the film is competently made. Final Rating = 7.5/10.0
The Cove - I had so much to say about this, I had to write a full review. Click on the link here to read.
What Have I Done?
Well, I am one news bit short this week because I had to make room for all the films I've seen, all the stuff I have done since my vacation, and all the trailers that I have not yet rated. First, a big hearty thanks to Steve Gustafson for his great work in my absence. He seems to fit that role perfectly, so look for him to return in a few months.
So I went to Maine last week with the fiancée, which was fun. We did white water rafting, which was the point of the trip, and of course I had a few movies going through my head (i.e. Deliverance and The River Wild). We also did a moose safari and lobstering, but sadly did not see any moose. The women of the group did a bunch of outlet shopping, and I caught something called the Oops outlet, which had some good DVD deals. It was $7 for 1 and 3 for $15, but these were some good discs, not the Wal-Mart dump bin stuff. I picked up Hard Boiled, Jet Li's Fearless Director's Cut, The Motorcycle Diaries, the 2-Disc of THX 1138, and The New Adventures of He-Man Volume 1. Yes they had a whole volume of that for dirt cheap.
But after we did those things during the day, we would chill at night of course, and myself and the people we were with brought along some DVDs to pop in. Well, the other couple had Last Man Standing in their booklet, and I had never seen that, but knew it was based off of Kurosawa's Yojimbo, so I decided to watch. I hated the film, aside from David Patrick Kelly. To hear our "Pat on the Back" to Mr. Kelly, click on the podcast right here. I also got watch the 4+ hour Fritz Lang thriller, Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, which was fantastic.
After I got home, my week from Monday to Friday was spent catching up on current movies. Saturday was a nice break from crowded theaters. Speaking of Saturday, Mr. Erik Luers, my fiancee Steph, and yours truly attended Monster Mania XIII. It was a fun day overall, except that Michael Madsen cancelled at the last minute. I did meet Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens), who was a very nice guy, and had plenty to say about the Terminator franchise and the Avatar footage. Adam West was tucked away in his own room, but I didn't go there. I was more interested in DVDs. I picked up Barfly with Mickey Rourke, The Keep, and early film from Michael Mann, and Little Darlings with Tatum O'Neal. Look for all three as future Nether Region issues! I also snagged Transformers: Masterforce, and wished I had the money for the other Japanese shows, but I did not. As for Erik, I couldn't tear him away from the Troma booth. His obsession is frightening.
It is good to be back. I'm preparing for my big Bulletin finale, so stay tuned! And for those who miss the Straight to Video Nightmares, they will return next week.
Based on the Trailer…
The Lovely Bones - This is my most anticipated film of the year, and it looks great, although the trailer does have some melodramatic acting, but still, the cast is terrific, and the special effects look magnificent. I really hope this turns out well. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Dorian Gray - Excuse me while I laugh at the ridiculousnes of this trailer. You have a British costume drama laced, complete with pretentious acting, laced with horror? They even have a line that says "If I tell you, I'd have to kill you." Pass. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
Hot Tub Time Machine - I have to admit, this looks as hysterical as it does stupid. This is the red band trailer, which makes it look ten times better than any lame regular one. John Cusack should do more comedies like this. I'm game. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
Avatar - Well, I wasn't knocked off my seat or anything, but the film certainly looks entertaining, the effects look great, and the story is intriguing. The only thing that threw me was the appearance of the aliens, which looks weird, but otherwise I'm still excited for this. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
The Wolfman - It reminds me of the Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelly's Frankenstein remakes, which is fine I guess. Benicio should be awesome, Hopkins is Hopkins, and the rest is average to me. It could go either way, but I'll see it for sure. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
Sorority Row - Wow, this looks like putrid trash. It even copies the bulk of its story from I Know What You Did Last Summer, which is not a good thing, and then you have Carrie Fisher for no reason. Pass. Trailer Rating = 2.5/10.0
Cirque de Freak: A Vampire's Assistant - I suppose a quirky horror comedy like this looks hilarious and fascinating to some, but it looks incredibly lame and dull to me. Aside from the effects, I have little interest in this, and John C. Reilly can do better. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0
Legion - It is hard to take this concept seriously when an old lady goes demon berserk in the first clip. The premise of angels attacking is thought provoking, but the execution seems unfocused and interested in CGI mostly. Paul Bettany is an underrated talent, but this looks mediocre at best. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0
When in Rome - Mark Steven Johnson gives us a romcom that looks terrible by this trailer. Kristin Bell and Josh Duhamel star in this sappy looking film with a bad story twist. Will Arnett and some of the supporting characters look humorous, but that's about it. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
Capitalism: A Love Story (2) - This looks like typical Moore shtick with humorous stunts intermingled with important points. I do not see him evolving as a documentarian, and although he informs the people on relevant issues, he should change his style every now and then. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
Taking Woodstock - If this wasn't directed by Ang Lee, I would probably not be interested, but it is, so I'll be seeing it for only that reason. I must agree with Mr. Luers and say this looks like Ang Lee's Almost Famous. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
Big Fan - Wow is all I can say. This looks terrific, even if it is about a Giants fan. Seriously though, Patton Oswalt looks great, and the premise appears to be excellent. I can't wait to see this. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
The Final Destination - What a dumb title. Why not just say "Final Destination 4"? People see these movies to watch the creative ways of dying. That's it. All the installments have been mediocre with a possible exception of the first film. This looks dumb. The well has run dry. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0
H2 - The Rob Zombie Halloween sequel looks a lot better than I anticipated with a definite Friday the 13th/Pamela Voorhees vibe going on (as Mr. Luers told me). I really hope this turns out well because Zombie deserves more respect as a filmmaker. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
Halloween II (2) - Well, this trailer is certainly different that the first one, and I'm not sure how enthusiastic I am now, but I'm still hoping this sequel will be entertaining. I noticed a lot more Zombie-esque imagery here, not to mention some cool looking kill scenes. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
The Boat that Rocked - I love music, so this is right up my alley. It's about a radio station on a boat, one that helped give rock music to the world. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Nick Frost. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself - This is just a teaser, but you know what you're getting when Madea is the main character of a film. This is what keeps Perry relevant, so logically he continues to make films with her. This is somewhat humorous, but nothing I'm interested in. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
9 - This looks amazing, and the Coheed & Cambria song in the background only makes me want to see it more. This will be a mighty tough year for Pixar to reign supreme in. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Gamer - Call this similar to Death Race or The Condemned and I would still say it looks terrible, and the title makes it worse in my opinion. The cast is better than I would have predicted, and I will give credit for using Marilyn Manson's awesome cover of "Sweet Dreams." Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
Surrogates - Here is another film that has the potential to be very good, or very bad. The director is Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), so I hope this is solid. Bruce Willis looks bizarre, but maybe that's a positive, and the plot has echoes of other sci-fi flicks, but you never know, this might surprise us. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
Jennifer's Body - This looks highly entertaining, and with Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried acting in a Diablo Cody horror script, it should be awesome. It should have loads of that lingo all the men love from Juno. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Bright Star - This is a British period piece, so you know what to expect, but it stars Ben Wishaw, a brilliant actor, and the story seems fascinating, so I'll see it. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
The Invention of Lying - This is going to be hilarious from start to finish. I'm a huge Ricky Gervais fan, and I can't wait to see this. The cast is terrific, and the premise is creative. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0
Extract - Mike Judge is delivering another comedy set in the workplace, and I can't wait. Ben Affleck has a cool look going on, and Jason Bateman is usually golden in comedies these days, so this should be terrific. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
Carriers - This trailer wants to disguise the fact that it is another mediocre "infected" movie badly. And it gives way too much information away. I feel like I know how it ends now. Chris Pine was great as Kirk, but here….not so much. I'll pass. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
Astro Boy - A lot of bright colors, fancy CGI, an all-star cast, and not much else. I realize fans of the many TV series' will be excited, but this character just translates as ordinary to the big screen. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0
Fame - This looks…..just like every other dance flick we've seen in the past decade, only this is a musical. Yay. The Wayans are parodying movies likes this for goodness sakes! This is a skip it, and I'm not talking about the girl toy from the 90's. Trailer Rating = 2.5/10.0
Zombieland - This looks hysterical, and very much in the vein of Shaun of the Dead, but that's ok because Woody Harrelson rocks, and if he's killing zombies, I'm paying for a ticket. Nuff said. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
Capitalism: A Love Story - This was a very funny teaser. It is typical Moore comedy, but I appreciated the way it was set up. No one gets the world interested in documentaries (or whatever you call Moore's stuff) like he does. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
Where the Wild Things Are - I know this production had loads of trouble, but this looks outstanding by the trailer. I can't wait to see it. The creatures look good and Spike Jonze usually doesn't disappoint. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
Whip It! - The directorial debut of Drew Barrymore looks like loads of fun actually, and it has my main gal Ellen Page in it, so I'm definitely seeing it. And my God, Daniel Stern is in this! It's about damn time he did something new. The plot looks good, and they use a Weezer song, so it gets my approval. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
The Box - Ok, my feelings on Richard Kelly and Donnie Darko are well known now, but tell me with a straight face this trailer does not make you laugh a little. They actually use the line "Is someone pushing you buttons?" in reference to the box. This does seem somewhat intriguing, but I would put money on it being horrendous. Trailer Rating = 5.5/10.0
The Stepfather - I must admit, this does not look as bad as I thought, but it still looks to have some issues. This film keeps the real father and adds a couple kids. I'll certainly see this, but am not sure how good it will be yet. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
More than a Game - If this focuses on the entire high school team, and not just LeBron James, it could be a very decent documentary. The trailer certainly spreads the wealth, so that's good. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
An Education - This British drama could go either way. It stars Peter Sarsgaard, and I like to see him getting juicer roles. The rest of the cast seems strong too, including Emma Thompson and Alfred Molina. Depending on how easy this is to see in theaters, I'd give it a shot. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
A Serious Man - The new film by the Coen brothers looks...well...weird, but then again, most of their films do. I like how they are not using many of their regular actors here. It doesn't matter what the plot is, I'm seeing this definitely. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
Amelia - I am anxious to see this since I've researched the history a little bit. The cast looks tremendous, so it should be terrific. The various words at the end of the trailer were lame, but otherwise this has me excited. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
The Road - This is based on a Cormac McCarthy novel, the same person who wrote the book to No Country for Old Me. I had no idea this was about the end of civilization. I am disappointed somewhat, but it could be good since Viggo and Charlize are the leads. These types of storylines always have the potential to be terrible though. The release date for this has already been pushed a number of times. I hope the final cut is better than this trailer. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Couples Retreat - This looks to be very funny, and hopefully the comedy is leveled out and not left up to Vaughn's typical shtick. Of course this trailer shows mostly him. Still, for people around the ages of the characters, this will be a definite date night. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
Saw VI - The poster ad was very cool, but this teaser is not. Actually, it is very disappointing and uncreative unlike the rest of the marketing campaign. I am still of fan of the series, so I hope this sequel delivers. Trailer Rating = 5.5/10.0
November, TBD, and Beyond Releases
Tron: Legacy - Gimme a hell yeah! I can't wait for this. I loved the original, and after seeing Jeff Bridges act like a bad a$$, I am so there. I hope the CGI is as outstanding as it looks. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
The Fantastic Mr. Fox - This film looks like a blast, and the animation looks outstanding. Wes Anderson uses many of his regulars here, which is fine, but George Clooney does not have a good voice for animation. Everytime I hear him I picture his face. Oh well, I'll definitely see this. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
Ninja Assassin - This looks certifiably awesome. The kid at the beginning of this trailer should beat up the kid from The Last Airbender. I am for action films, but when you include throwing stars and chains, I am amped. I can't wait to see this. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
Planet 51 - This could be a fairly amusing CGI film. The animation looks nice, but this has few voices, and no real clue as to how funny it will be. I am still unsure, but it might be good, and it might not. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Sherlock Holmes - Guy Ritchie is sending mixed signals with this one. I am anxious to see it, but this trailer shows an action film, and call me old fashioned, but I kind of prefer the mystery to outweigh the action. However, Rachel McAdams looks damn sexy and Kurrgan is involved, so those are both positive points. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt - A generic looking courtroom thriller complete with generic title. Jesse Metcalfe, or John Tucker from John Tucker Must Die is not a good actor, and aside from Michael Douglas outshining everyone as a scumbag attorney, I have no reason to see this. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
Alice in Wonderland - This trailer pushes Depp as the star, but his character is not in the story for very long. Oh well, it looks pretty good, but Burton needs to lay off the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory bright colors. Still, I love the Disney film, and if this is weirder, I'm game. Traiuler Rating = 7.5/10.0
Shutter Island - Martin Scorsese's new film looks outstanding, and yes, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, but who cares? They do great things together. The cast looks terrific, and the plot seems intriguing. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0
The Book of Eli - An action flick starring Denzel Washington with a machete and Gary Oldman as the villain (I assume). Who says good ideas are dead? This is from the Hughes Brothers, a very underrated directing team. This movie looks very tubular. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
Precious - This is about how life can be very hard sometimes. The cast includes Mariah Carey and Mo'Nique, both of whom look to be outstanding, and I can't believe I just wrote that, but it's true. See for yourself. This looks to be a winner. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Antichrist Lars Von Trier, the director of Dogville and Manderlay, is behind this new psychological thriller/horror effort. It just might be decent, but with Willem Dafoe, one never can tell. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
New York, I Love You - The first film, Paris, Je T'aime was one of the best films in recent memory that few knew about. So I am very excited about this second installment. The cast and directors look amazing. It should be a terrific experience. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Brothers - From Jim Sheridan, the man who gave us In America and Get Rich or Die Tryin'. Gyllenhaal rocks a beard, Natalie Portman has long hair again, and Tobey Maguire plays an insane soldier. I cannot wait to see this, though I do need to see the original. One of the best trailers I've seen this year. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Broken Embraces - The new drama from Pedro Almodovar. It looks appropriately strange, but that's not unusually for him. Penelope Cruz looks good as always, but I am not as fond of Pedro as others. Still, I'm sure I'll see this. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Giallo - An intriguing horror mystery from Dario Argento, which looks to be solid by the looks of it. Adrien Brody seems odd in the role from these clips, but I'd certainly see this just because Argento is at the helm. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
The Vintner's Luck - A love story about wine, involving angels? This looks so bizarre, but Vera Farmiga is in it, and Keisha Castle-Hughes, so it could be a surprise. I'm still undecided. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Daybreakers - A world where almost everyone is a vampire. This story actually seems intelligent, whereas most vampire plots these days are crap. Ethan Hawke seems to be channeling his Gattaca roots here. The song from Placebo is very effective in the trailer also. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
Old Dogs - John Travolta and Robin Williams lead an all-star cast in a comedy from the director of Wild Hogs. This will make a lot of money. I think it looks dumb and over the top, but it might be worth a laugh or two. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
2012 (2) - This looks insane, but right up Roland Emmerich's alley. The special effects look incredible, but plot seems to be an exact replica of the last 20 disaster epics. Still, the powerful images will probably be enough to drag me to the theater. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
The Princess and the Frog - It's about time Disney returned to hand drawn animation. This looks to be a lot of fun, and very much in the spirit of the classic tales they used to adapt when Walt was around…maybe he still is. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
The Twilight Saga: New Moon - Boy does this look retarded. The sequels will no doubt increase the hatred for this series. The were-wolf morphing is truly retarded. I say pass. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans - Nicolas Cage, Val Kilmer, and Werner Herzog. Hell yes! This could be bad or good, but I have faith in Herzog to elicit the best from this quirky cast. This story looks bizarre, but with Herzog, a trailer is never as good as the full feature. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
Nine - The new musical from Rob Marshall (Chicago) looks to be infused with Fellini-esque qualities, which is a good thing. The cast certainly qualifies for the all-star label, and story looks entertaining, so I'm there. This should be fantastic. I mean come on, Dame Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis are just the tip of the iceberg. This is one of my most anticipated for 2009. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
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--From the movie Recount