Saturday, November 14, 2009

Out Of The Ether 11/14/09

 This is probably not news you're average movie goer is very interested in, but it's big, big, big news whether or not they are interested. MGM is officially up for sale, as reported by Variety. We're talking about a 4,000 film library that includes the James Bond Franchise, The Wizard of Oz, and so many more I'm not even going into it. We're talking about one of the cornerstones in film history. I can only hope the executives over there end up eating in soup kitchens for the next five years (but we all know there's a really big, very golden parachute for them), but the catalog of titles they own is important, and who it is that ends up owning the rights to those films determines what kind of access we have to them in the future, and the quality of the presentation we're offered. MGM has been the king of the half assed DVD release. The image quality is always passable (rarely stellar), but everything else is second rate, at best. They've got a vault full of classic film which deserves a really strong representation and has long term financial viability. The DVD releases of those classic films usually include the film, and if you're really lucky, an original trailer from that film. What they always contain is the trailer for MGM Home Entertainment, just to remind you of the number of other classic films you can see get the bargain basement treatment.

For all of my friends out there whom I know to be Cormac McCarthy fans, and who enjoyed the hell out of The Proposition, there are 10 new clips for The Road. I'm extremely excited about this one. Thanks to Bloody Disgusting for the clips. I haven't watched them, because I'd really like to go into this one having seen as little as possible, but they're here in case you want to.

Let me make something clear here. I am in no way inherently opposed to the big budget studio blockbuster. Iron Man and The Dark Knight are among my favorite films of the last few years. And no, it's not just because they're based on comic books (wise ass), it's because they are good movies. Roland Emmerich, director of such classsic films as Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla, Universal Soldier, and 10,000 BC, had his latest epic open yesterday. The latest in what has now been dubbed "disaster porn", 2012 is a film I've been thinking is going to not only be more of the same, but actually probably worse. "Hey Pony, I've seen that trick. Got any more?" Over at AICN, Massawyrm's posted a review basically confirming my suspicions. Since you more or less know where I stand on Roland Emmerich and his latest disaster, here's Capone's review from AICN as well. Decide for yourself whether or not to drop ten bones on this one.

Let's go on to something which is worth celebrating. Neither of those first two items really ring with happiness and excitement, do they? This should. Roger Corman is an icon of independent and cult film. He's the guy who gave people like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorcese, Robert Deniro and Sylvester Stallone their first jobs in film. He's also the guy who produced countless drive-in classics like, well, see the three hundred film catalog for yourself. He's finally going to get some recognition for the part he's played in helping to shape the film industry, and inadvertently helping to create a market for independent  and cult film. He's getting an honorary Oscar. Good for you Roger. A legion of geeks, freeks and tweakers are out here celebrating for you.

In other Oscar news, this is going to be the very first time the Best Animated Feature will have a full field of nominees to choose from. For a full five nominees to be chosen, sixteen films have to be submitted for nomination. This year, there are apparently twenty films submitted. /film had the original story, and has now posted a list of the submitted films as well. It's a list of twenty films alright. Does that make them all worthy of nomination? Not on your life, but see for yourself.

Are you over thirty? Are you a horror film fan? Do you remember an awesomely fun little film from the eighties about a teenager whose life gets turned upside down when he realizes his new neighbor is actually a vampire? You do? Well Fright Night fans, pay no attention to the large sharp object in my hand, and put yours right here on the table. Why, you ask? Because I know you've been thinking you'd give a finger to see a remake of this deeply loved favorite, and now I'm going to make your dreams come true. This is really like an arrow right in the heart for me. I've probably seen the original Fright Night almost one hundred times. I don't know that it even gives me any solace to have Marti Noxon, one of the former Buffy scribes working on the remake either. This is almost like seeing someone exhume my childhood pet, just to take the skull as a souvenir. I even loved the artwork for this one.

In more news of unnecessary remakes (the kind of news which isn't ending these days), there's a trailer for the A Nightmare On Elm Street remake. Jackie Earle Haley has done some really great work in the last few years. I can't for one second suggest otherwise, and if they were just going to have to go through with this, he is absolutely the best choice for a new Freddy Krueger. The trailer is kind of interesting. We'll see.

WOW. I'm just realizing how much of today's news is related to either sequels or remakes. They're really running out of ideas out there in the land of plastic and pollution aren't they? Well, here's the trailer for the Clash Of The Titans remake. 

This is the last of the sequel/remake news for this installment, I promise. Is anyone interested in Scream 4? If you're one of the three people in the country raising your hand, here you go.

Over at Bloody Disgusting, Mr. Disgusting himself is raving about a film he's caught at the American Film Market. The Phillipino film, Slice, has apparently impressed him. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for it, though I have a feeling it's going to be a straight to DVD release here in the States.

Good news for Stephen King fans, his latest book "Under The Dome" is headed to HBO as a mini-series. I've always been secretly disappointed that "The Stand" ended up on network television, because let's face it, the book was pretty graphic, and deserved to stay that way. I'm glad to hear HBO is picking up his latest book. Over at Dread Central, they've got that story, a video of one of his book signing's in which he provides an update on the progress of a film for his novel "Cell", and......................................................................
there's a new Dark Tower novel on the way. Here's the link. King is an interesting guy in general.

There's a Hansel and Gretel film on the way. I'm a long time fan of Grimm's fairy tales (I hated that damned Brother's Grimm movie), and I would like to see some more films based on them. This one is apparently going to be more in the tone of Shaun Of The Dead. They've got the story over at Bloody Disgusting.

Here's something that is just plain interesting. The American Film Institute hosts a variety of different programs, and apparently a number of them can be found and heard via podcast. I've been going through some of the older programs, and some of them are really interesting and really entertaining. Some of them are just not my thing, but I figured instead of just posting links to the one's I like, I'd post the link to where you can find whatever YOU might like. AFI PODCASTING is a pretty cool thing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Out Of The Ether, 11/10/09

We've got a slew of good stuff to get to.

Let's start with my favorite thing, a movie to get excited about. I love few things more than stumbling across an article on some site that makes me excited about a film for one reason or another. This is one of those things. Ravenous (previously known as Burning Bright), a film about a girl, with her autistic younger brother, locked in a house with a hungry tiger during a hurricane, might not be a horror movie specifically, but sure as hell could be something extremely exciting to watch. A TIGER(!!!!) chasing a girl around a house could prove for some extremely tense situations, and in the hands of someone who could really handle the material, could be a really fun film. Apparently, from the review over at Bloody Disgusting, that's exactly what it is. I'll be looking forward to this, and trying to see it as soon as possible.

 The Spiderman 4 news is and rumors are starting to swirl. Expect to here this for the next year. Marvel certainly has their hands full with Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor, and The Avengers films. It might actually be good for the old web head that this franchise was started before Marvel figured out that they should be the one's in creative control of their properties, and not letting the studios put out crap like The Fantastic Four. Anyway, in Spiderman news, we're getting conflicting reports regarding casting. over at IGN, they're reporting that Rachel McAdams is in talks to play Felicia Hardy a.k.a The Black Cat in the next celluloid installment of Spidey's adventures. For those of you unfamiliar with the Spideyverse, Black Cat is thief, and occasional challenge to both Spidey and Peter Parkers loyalty to Mary Jane. I can definitely see this being a very Raimi story, unlike Spiderman 3, which wasn't a story Raimi ever wanted to tell. The conflict in reports comes from /film, where they're reporting that Romola Garai is auditioning for the role as well. Basically, it seems like no one has the role, but we can count on the fact that casting has actually begun, there's a new female lead involved, and there's good chance that lead is Black Cat.

Another huge franchise is making some news as well. Guillermo Del Toro will be suiting up to play a unimportant background character in The Hobbit, which he is directing and Peter Jackson is producing. Ian McKellen, John Rhys Davies and Viggo Mortenson are all saying they'd like to return to hallowed Tolkien ground of Middle Earth. IGN is carrying that story here.

 In news that for me falls into the category of "THERE REALLY MIGHT BE A GOD AFTER ALL!!!", Ain't It Cool News is reporting that Steven Spielberg and Will Smith are not going to get the chance to do an adaptation of the manga Oldboy, which Chan-wook Park has already directed an insanely incredible South Korean version of. The title of the article is How Tough Is Hollywood? I actually like both Steven Spielberg and Will Smith, so I'm not going all "I hate A list Hollywood because I think I'm a hipster deuche bag", I just don't see these guys being able to do anything nearly as effecting and downright mind boggling as has already been done, and I don't really think it's necessary to remake films just so Americans don't have to read subtitles. See the original or miss out.

Hears a question, did you like Se7en? If so, you might be happy to hear that David Fincher and writer Andrew Kevin Walker, the team who brought you the detective team of Morgan Freeman and Bradd Pitt chasing Kevin Spacey's serial killer only to find Gwyneth Paltrow's head in a box are teaming up again. I'm happy about it. The Reincarnation of Peter Proud is apparently a remake. Thanks again to Ain't It Cool News for bringing us news that is actually cool.

Darren Aronofsky came into national recognition with his first feature, Requiem for a Dream, and proceeded to piss almost every one of those people who had high hopes for him in releasing The Fountain as his second feature. His third film The Wrestler drew critical praise and may have given Mickey Rourke a shot at an acting career which allows him the opportunity to play more than just an over the hill tough guy. Now, he's working on a new project, The Black Swan. The story of a ballerina whose chief rival may or may not be a figment of her imagination has attracted Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel and Winona Ryder. AICN again.

I've been looking forward to this one for a little over a year now, and the date of release is getting ever close. Terry Gilliam's newest The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus has a new poster, which /film has had the good sense to post. I really can't wait to see this one.

James McTeigue's feature directorial debut was V for Vendetta, a film I absolutely love and adore. It may not be fashionable anymore and it may not be "cool", but I do. His latest, well, the chances are pretty good that it's not quite as philosophically or intellectually grounded, but it sure looks like it's going to be one hell of a good time for martial arts/action fans. Check out the new clips for Ninja Assassin over at BD.

There's also a new one sheet for the Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson film After.Life. Follow the link here, to find it and some other images from the film.

The first decade of the millennium has brought us a number of films which haven't had a theatrical release, but have found large followings in their humble straight to DVD roots. There is probably no better example of what the combination of word of mouth, internet buzz and some respectable backing by a distributor creating a monster than Hatchet. I enjoyed the film, but I'm not among it's legion of rabidly loyal fans. Either way, it seemed appropriate to post a link to the first poster art release for sequel, Hatchet 2.

Two of the directors who made my Decade of Horror list have new films coming out soon. Chris Smith, who brought us Severance, is now visiting The Black Death upon us. The film is the story of a group of men trying to bring a woman believed to be the demonic source of the plague to her exorcism. BD has stills. Brian Yuzna has a new 3-D feature on the way called Amphibious 3-D. You can get a first peek at it here.

I've been reading and hearing some pretty good things about Macabre and would like a chance to get to see it myself, but since I'm in Richmond, that chance may not come until it hits DVD. But to you folks who may be in a location more friendly to non-multiplex movie going, here's something about it.

And finally, Dead Snow the festival hit featuring zombie Nazi's is coming to wide release DVD. So far, it's been a Blockbuster Exclusive, which kind of sucks for those of us who enjoy freedom of speech and choose not to spend our money at Blockbuster. We're all going to get a chance to see it and buy soon. Get the details for that and the DVD for Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 here.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Box

Previous to The Box, writer/director Richard Kelly has brought two films to the screen. The first, Donnie Darko (a truly  bizarre, puzzle website)has become a hotly debated cult film with a loyal and relatively large following. Personally, I love Donnie Darko, even though I know it doesn't all add up after you've seen the film a few times. The first viewing was so striking I'll continue to suggest it to people, and I just really love the characters in that film. I also think part of the reason that it's so hotly debated has as much to do with the fact that it's gained so much popularity. I get the feeling it's the kind of film a good number of people just love to hate for that reason and that reason alone.

The second film Kelly brought us, the hotly anticipated Southland Tales was an annoying mess. I like science fiction. I like meandering, half intersecting plotlines, which might serve to do little more than add color to a story. I like deus ex machina events in stories when they're well done. Southland Tales was just a bloated, over drawn, over done, boring, incoherent narrative thrown together around some relatively funny lines and some relatively interesting ideas. It was crap, in whole and total. If you haven't even seen five minutes of that utter barge of ego-tastic crap, count yourself among the lucky.

Now comes, The Box. Can Kelly (a Midlothian native) redeem himself for the degree of disappointment movie goers felt with his second film after developing such a following for his first film as to catapult him into the "Directors to watch" category?

The answer: That depends.

Did you enjoy the ride Donnie Darko took you on enough to be a little less critical of some of it's shortcomings? If so, the chances are pretty good you'll enjoy The Box. This is a leap of millennium and dimensions away from Southland Tales, so I'm not even going to attempt to compare the two.

I can say The Box kept my attention for two solid hours, enough to be mesmerizing in it's own dread, gloom soaked way. I was definitely sitting there, trying my best to figure out where it was going to go next. I'm familiar with the original story, "Button, Button" by Richard Matheson, and I've always loved it, but it gives you no real idea where this film is going. Since the story was so short, to get a complete feature film out of it, you'd absolutely have to add to it. And what Kelly adds is interesting, bizarre, conspiracy theory science fiction which is pretty good all in all. It definitely works as you're watching it. You're following it, and it moves along fast enough to kind of hurry you through some of the less grounded aspects of the reality it creates for itself.

If you're not familiar with the original story or the plot of this film by now, here it is. A married couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) are approached by a man who brings them a box. Inside the box is a device with a button on the top. The man (played by Frank Langella) explains to the couple that they are being presented with a choice. They can press the button, at which point they will be given one million dollars. At the same time though, someone they don't know will be killed. They are given twenty four hours to decide. If anyone else is told, the deal is off, no money. From there, you figure it out. 

Both Cameron Diaz and James Marsden handle their parts with competence. Neither of them puts in performances they are going to be remembered for in either the incredibly powerful or incredibly ridiculous varieties. Frank Langella, on the other hand, takes his role as Arlington Steward, the role that is not only the hardest because it has the most exposition and the most outlandish dialogue to deliver but also because of the degree to which the film fails without it working, and nails it. Langella is great as the vaguely creepy, sometimes sympathetic, sometimes apathetic Steward. I really wish Langella was showing up in more films, because he is always gives such great performances.

This film doesn't have the kind of characters to really fall in love with the way Donnie Darko did. But it does have an even more twisting, turning, topsy, turvy narrative that keeps you on the edge of your seat and trying to not only keep up, but get one step ahead. This is probably for the fans out there who really like their sci-fi to come with big BIG ideas. Like Donnie Darko though, I think that after the first viewing and the rush to keep up with it and try to figure it out, I really don't think this film is going to stand up to it's own logic in further viewings. I think there are probably just holes in there big enough to drive a tractor trailer through. Maybe if we get a Director's Cut on Blu-Ray and DVD, it will all be explained further in deleted scenes or something, but as of now, I really don't think it's all there.

For those of you reading this from the Richmond Virginia area, there are Easter eggs galore in this film. Richmond residence are going to be able to watch this film repeatedly just to try and catch all of the extremely Richmond specific things in the film. It's really pretty cool. I was definitely sitting there watching it going, "HEY! That's.........." Those of you who were here in the seventies may even recognize even more of it than I did. That was definitely pretty entertaining, and an added aspect of fun for my Richmond friends.

All in all, this is a fun film, with some flaws that are pretty apparent. It does a really great job of establishing and keeping going an atmosphere of dread, doom and impending calamity. It presents some really fun ideas and some great science fiction tropes in fun and new ways. It also doesn't completely add up once you're done with the initial viewing and try to piece it all together. I could be wrong about that, I'd have to see it at least one more time to be completely sure, but I'm pretty confident I didn't miss anything so necessary that what doesn't make sense to me now would if I'd have caught that sliver of info. If you liked Donnie Darko, you'll be entertained by The Box. If you didn't like Darko, this one is going to infuriate you further and you're probably going to start demanding the death of Richard Kelly. If you do happen to be a Richmond resident though, it may have repeated viewing value for the "is that really in Richmond" game.

Out Of The Ether 11/8/09

Time for the second edition of Out Of The Ether. YEAH!!!

First, I'd like to introduce to you to........

Yes. This is the poster for the new Wolfman remake/reboot/reimagining starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, and Emily Blunt. If you're really excited, and want an image large enough to use as a wallpaper, head on over to the original posting on AICN. As you can see on the poster, you can catch this in February of next year. If you head on over to Cinematical, there's another, less interesting poster.

One of the more anticipated films of the upcoming holiday season is the new Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law and Rachel McAdams. There's a new trailer. Click HERE to see trailer #3 for what's basically guaranteed to be one of the biggest movies of the year.

Another name connected with another mega-franchise of late is J.J. Abrams. The man who brought us a hugely successful (and really damned fun) new Star Trek is trying to get a film off of the ground based on the Japanese toy Micronauts. That, and other bizarre news popped up in the Wall Street Journal of all places. Thanks to AICN for the heads up. 

The new trailer for Season of the Witch has many things going for it. It also has one thing working against it. Can you tell who it is? 

One of the films more or less guaranteed to be a big splash next year, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, has released the trailer. It's not looking too bad.  I'm not sure what to make of this. Most of the video game to film adaptations have been horrible, in the just poor, poor quality way, not the fun way. It gives me some hope to see Jake Gyllenhaal taking on the role of the Prince in question, because the guy can more or less do what he wants these days, and he has a reputation for taking on films with a weightier script, but we'll see. He was also in The Day After Tomorrow whose date is apparently, 2012

In news related to 30 Days Of Night: Dark Days, the sequel to 30 Days Of Night, the first image from the film has emerged over at Bloody Disgusting. I can only hope the sequel matches the original in ferocity, even if they're doing that most horrible thing of changing actors for a main character between films. Melissa George didn't die, as is the most acceptable reason for this, she just didn't want to come back for the sequel. Over at Dread Central, they've got a few on set pictures, and will have some on set coverage coming in the future.

Here's one I'm excited about. I've particularly liked to two original films Eli Roth has directed so far, Hostel, and Cabin Fever. Here's a look at the first images from Cotton, his newest project. Expect a good deal more news in connection with this one as we get closer to release. Eli is not what you would call "press shy".

Also in the category of someone who isn't press shy, rapper Eminem has signed on to produce and star in a 3-D horror anthology (a la Creepshow, Trick 'r Treat, Tales From The Darkside), apparently to be titled Shady Talez. Some of you might be wondering why on earth I'd be posting news of this. I honestly think Mr. Mathers might have what it takes to recognize a strong horror story, and though there was probably little acting at all involved, 8 Mile was a much better film than any of us had reason to hope for. IGN has the story.

John Landis has a new feature on the way entitled Burke and Hare. This sounds like it could be the perfect project for someone with Landis's absolutely perfect ability to mix scares, chills and humor. Apparently based on the true story of 19th century grave robbers who find a lucrative business in providing cadavers for a medical school in Edinburgh, the casting news has been great so far. Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and David Tennant (the latest Syfy channel incarnation of Dr. Who), have previously signed on. Now, a legend of supernaturally comedic films, Dan Akroyd has been announced as joining the cast. Landis is someone I have seen and read a few thousand interviews with, and from the kind of impression he leaves, I love seeing him succeed, so I'm pushing for this one.

How about news of the "are you talking about the same movie?" variety. Apparently both of the films Seven Days and The Tortured have stories that revolve around parents who decide to take justice into their own hands in dealing with their child's murderer. I've honestly gone back twice in the last two days to make sure both of these announcements had to do with different films.

The struggling Dimension Films is still trying beyond hope to revive their planned Hellraiser remake. I have a deep and abiding love for the original film, though I can see where some things may be fleshed out (unintended pun stays) given a more substantial budget and the right creative team. Do I for one second believe Dimension will be able to bottle the kind of lightning necessary to pull that off? No. I have no confidence in that possibility. Apparently they are trying to do this one in 3D. Need I say more?

It seems Moonstone Entertainment is trying to resurrect another horror franchise as well. According to, they are touting the hiring of a writer/director at the AFM. The Howling Reborn is the title their working with right now. It's not absolutely clear as to whether this is going to be a sequel or a remake/reboot to the series. Joe Dante's original was a fun, film, specifically for adults. The sequels were fun for those of us who can stomach bad horror films and have fun with them, but no cinematic gems.

I am interested in the French zombie film The Horde which has apparently been picked up by IFC films. I guess they don't want to miss out on the explosion of interest in foreign made horror films that Magnet Releasing, Anchor Bay and a few other distributors have been capitalizing on. This one was apparently produced by the Xavier Gens, director of the worth seeing The Frontier(s).

The Poughkeepsie Tapes

I rarely see a film which gives me the kinds of heebie jeebie's that I'm making sure my windows and doors are locked. This one did.

I just sat through my first viewing of The Poughkeepsie Tapes which was directed by John Erick Dowdle and written by John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle.

This film takes the "faux-documentary" idea very seriously, as the entire film plays out exactly like a documentary would. It's supposed to be documenting the hunt for, exploits of, and the eventually found videotapes of The Water Street Butcher, a serial killer who prowled Poughkeepsie, New York during the nineties. The thing is, these guys did an incredible job of creating the documentary feel. This is actually poor in all the places so many of "true crime" documentaries we've come to be so familiar with are poor. They have almost perfectly written the parts for the police they've interviewed, and certainly did a great job with casting. I've read a few reviews in the past which took some of the performances to task, but now that I've seen it, I honestly don't think the reviewers in those cases fully understood the intent. If you watch the kind of "true crime" documentary this film is supposed to recreating, you will find a number of the people interviewed for them are not at all used to being on camera, and that's exactly how this comes across. I don't know if it's just a product of poor acting or something the Dowdle brothers specifically tried to get in the movie, but for me, it worked in service of the film.

Then there's the "found footage", which isn't the most graphic thing I've ever seen by a very long shot, but still manages to be downright creepy and weird because of the very bizarre nature of it. Some of the degree of truly creepy and unsettling nature might just be the degree to which it isn't all that shocking. I think it got to me because it really did come across in a way which really suggested that if some serial killer had recorded all of his exploits, this is exactly what we, as the general public, would be allowed to see. A documentarian has considerations a narrative fiction film maker doesn't have, especially if they were covering a subject like the one this film is supposed to. If this had been a real documentary, you'd never have seen a shot in which any of the victims were actually killed. It just would not happen, it would be too much, too sensational, too graphic and so on. It would literally become a snuff film, and it would never get made, have a prayer of getting released or distributed or anything. A documentary on the horrors of war, absolutely, you will see people actually die on film. But a documentary on a serial killer or serial killers in general, even if tapes like these actually did exist, the general public would never be shown an actual murder on tape. And if they were, the chances are better than not that it would cause the kind a kind of uproar the likes of which have not been seen in a very, very, long time, possibly ever. As a society, a movie going public, the chances are better than not that we wouldn't accept it. Sure, people bitch and moan and whine about the "immoral nature" of violence in fiction (especially horror films), but this is one of the few ways in which somehow, some way, on some instinctual level, we understand there is a difference between reality and fiction. The Brothers Dowdle know exactly where to stop to keep the film both riveting and also keep the reality of the "documentary" real enough to have kept me deeply uneasy from about a quarter of the way in.

The Pougkeepsie Tapes manages to be disturbing and unsettling without being very graphic at all. There is very little blood, very little on screen violence and very little to satiate the gore hounds who would inevitably be flocking to this. But I'd honestly be less likely to suggest someone let a younger child or someone with more sensitive sensibilities see this film than something like, say, Hostel, because what is in this film is, to me, much more disturbing, unnerving and hard to wrangle with mentally or intellectually. With almost no gore at all, it takes certain ideas and themes which are at the base core of something like torture, and puts them front and center with a spotlight on them.

I can absolutely see that there would be a contingent of the movie going public, especially a few communities in the horror movie going public who would really just crap all over this film because to them, it wouldn't be scary enough or bloody enough. I can see how there would definitely be people to whom none of this would be very effecting. At the same time, for some odd reason, it got me where I live to a degree which after almost thirty years of obsession with horror films is extremely unusual.

Here's the troublesome aspect of The Poughkeepsie Tapes. Like Trick r' Treat and Paranormal Activity, this film hit the festival circuit in 2007 and was picked up by one of the major film studios. MGM is still sitting on this film and are basically refusing to release it. Though I can't offer any explanation with any absolute  conviction, I think I might understand why this film hasn't been released yet. They are in a no win situation as far as the marketing is concerned. There's no way to market this film without setting up public expectation that it will more or less be a "faux-documentary" Saw rip off. If they can't dispel that, the film loses in every way. All of the people going to see a film which they are hoping and expecting to be the same kind of blood soaked festival of gore that something like Saw  is are going to be disappointed. The movie going public who are tired of poor imitations of Hostel and the original Saw, are the people who should be seeing this movie, but it's impossible to put together a trailer and marketing campaign which will tell them that without ruining some of the more important aspects of the film and doing that ever more popular, completely useless and stupid thing of telling the entire story, surprises and all, in the trailer.

There is definitely, definitely an audience for this film. That I have no doubt about. It's obvious a good deal of time, and more importantly, thought, was put into this film. The Dowdle Brothers have managed to create a stirring, disturbing and unusual piece of cinema here. It's the kind of thing which would find it's way into some corner of cinema history which future generations of horror fans would visit in their constant quest to satiate their appetites. I don't know this would necessarily become a "cult classic" kind of film, but more something that genre lovers would respect and enjoy and in the future would definitely talk about as among the best of the "faux-documentary" style horror films. It's definitely the kind of thing any future film makers considering venturing into the "faux-doc" style should be advised to see.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is something I wouldn't have felt cheated to have spent movie theater money on, that I'd recommend to friends with a leaning toward genre films, and I'd give a 7.5 out of 10, possibly an 8.  

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Men Who Stare At Goats

Maybe you've seen the trailers or you've seen or heard one of the many interviews lately being conducted with the man who wrote the book, Jon Ronson. Though the book "The Men Who Stare At Goats" is  non-fiction, it wasn't exactly a narrative so much as a collection of bizarre facts about different things the United States military has tried through the years. The film basically takes those same facts and organizes them around a fictional narrative, so when at the opening of the film, it reads, "More of this is true than you would believe", they're not actually lying.

I am somehow not able to bring myself to believe that attempting to train psychic super soldiers is either the stupidest or silliest thing the military has ever tried in order to gain the upper hand on, well, everyone. So, I'm not going to write a review of the film basking in the ridiculousness of the premise it suggests, because it is ridiculous, which is why a movie about it exists.

The movie itself is successful in delivering some good laughs. It's also successful in delivering a narrative that kept me guessing enough to keep me interested through it's ninety minute running time. Is this a new classic? No. Is it entertaining? Basically yes.

The Men Who Stare At Goats is a decent film. The cast does a great job of running with the material as far as they can, and it's a pretty good cast. George Clooney has been in this territory before, so it's not as if there's a long stretch here, giving new depth to his acting abilities. This character is slightly different than those he's played in Burn After Reading, Oh Brother Where Art Thou, and LeatherHeads. It's not the best material he's had to work with before, but he does a good job with it.

Ewan McGregor has also played characters not so different from this wide eyed journalist as well. If I'm honest about it, he was adequate, but I've seen him do much better in Nightwatch, A Life Less Ordinary,and Big Fish

Jeff Bridges is also reprising a role he's played before. The Big Lebowski has become a cult favorite, and might be Bridges most popular work (though recently I've been finding Tron fans coming out of the woodwork). Here as brain trust behind the crazy ideas the Army allows him to try, Bridges equally entertaining. His pony-tailed Bill Django is Lebowski if he'd been in the military.

Kevin Spacey shows up three quarters of the way through the film and adds some snap to things as the overly ambitious new recruit. We've also seen Spacey in territory like this before. He's convincing as a self absorbed asshole. Isn't he always though?

Honestly, I think that's the story of this entire film. It's not a bad film, there are definitely a few good laughs in there, but like all of the actors in the roles, there's nothing really risky going on here. I'm not sure if the film makers were relying on the novelty of the narrative to get them through, which I guess it does. On the one hand, it seems to rely too heavily on this novelty for it's story, and on the other hand it doesn't seem to deliver enough laughs when you look at the basic premise of the film. It's not something I'm walking away from regretting having watched, but it's not something I'd either be excited to watch again or I'd be enthusiastically recommending to friends. If you're a George Clooney fan, it will entertain you for ninety minutes. If you like the Coen Bros. less idiosyncratic comedies (Raising Arizona being more idiosyncratic), you'll be entertained for ninety minutes.

The only real critical comment I can relate about it is this, after that ninety minutes is over, you won't care about it anymore. Take that for what it's worth.

I can suggest this one as a rental or if you're not in the mood for something more risky that might be really great, but could also be absolutely terrible.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Out Of The Ether

In the last few months, because of my repeated postings on Facebook regarding Paranormal Activity and Trick r Treat, a number of people have asked me where the hell I'd heard of these things. The sad truth is that I spend a number of hours every week scouring the internet for news of films I think will be interesting. There are a few film related sites I visit almost daily. There are others I check up on more or less weekly.

I've been trying to come up with some new things to do with Bleed For It, and it occurred to me that I might be able to do a service to some of my film fanatic friends who don't have time to pour over film websites for tidbits of information. I don't think it's only a matter of interest, for a number of people it's also a matter of time. Maybe you have kids or a job that requires many long hours, or maybe it's some other variety of interest which takes up good chunks of your time. You can have any and all of these things and still be a film fanatic, just one without as much time for news about what's going on, what's coming, what's getting squashed and so on in the movie community. Maybe you're not really very internet savvy.

I've decided that a few times a week I'm going to start putting together a list of links to news regarding films I'm interested in following or that I think some of the folks who'd be reading this might be interested in. It won't be devoted entirely to horror films either. Even the most avid of horror film fanatics are interested in other kinds of films as well. There will be plenty of Sci-Fi, , fantasy, and other genre goodness. Out Of The Ether is going to be my attempt at separating the wheat from the chaff so far as movie news is concerned and delivering as much of it to you, dear reader, as I can find over a few days period. If you come across something you think I should mention or you'd like to see me start covering regularly, give me a shout and let me know. I'll try to keep it as spoiler free as possible and notify you if I know there are spoilers of any variety in the article I link to. Personally, as much as I like to know what's going on, what kinds of deals are being made, what films are coming out, what films have been dropped from production or distribution, I hate to know too much about a movie when I see it. I'd rather have a general idea of what a film is about and get to go in and experience the story and so on as it unfolds.

Coming to theaters tomorrow is The Box. Directed by Richard Kelly, the writer/director of the superb Donnie Darko and the down right annoying Southland Tales, I have hope for this film specifically because it is adapted from a story by the icon Richard Matheson. Matheson was a regular writer for the Twilight Zone television series, and wrote some incredible books including "I Am Legend", "The Shrinking Man", and "Hell House." Bloody Disgusting has an interview with Kelly about his new film. CLICK HERE to read it. I'm a fan big Donnie Darko fan, so I'll check this out sometime in the next few days. Expect a review. It's also worth noting that Kelly is a Virginia native, having apparently grown up in Midlothian.

Reviews for The Box-
Also hitting theaters tomorrow is The Fourth Kind, starring Milla Jovovich. Apparently a yarn about alien abduction (from what the trailers are more or less suggesting), and being touted as "based on a true story". I'm not sure what to make of it, but there are some genuinely unsettling looking moments in the trailer. We'll see. I might try to catch this one this coming week. 

Here are some reviews:
Rumors about a sequel to Paranormal Activity  are swirling. No one is saying much of anything other than "we're thinking about it". Even though I think a sequel is doomed before it starts, I'll keep you up to date should any details start to emerge. I'm sure it's only a matter of time considering it's now become the most profitable film of all time. Yes, the most profitable film, ever.

Dread Central has a collection of interesting articles to check out. As if further proof were needed, Hollywood's need to push things beyond cultural saturation into the land of inevitable backlash has another example with the upcoming Amy Heckerling film Vamps. Heckerling has previously found success with Fast Time At Ridgemont High, Clueless, and according to Dread Central, the Look Who's Talking films. Why am I not excited about this?

In news of the, "Excuse me? Did you just say what I think you just said?" variety, Kelly McGillis turns up in a new vampire flick called Stake Land, also starring Danielle Harris (Halloween 4,5,6 and Rob Zombie's Halloween and Rob Zombie's Halloween 2...... a favorite among male horror fans). The trailer looks interesting.

One part of me wants to get excited about this. Another part of me wants to find the home of the studio executive who said this guy was a good idea for this movie and burn it to the ground. Marcus Nispel, of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th remakes is set to direct a new Conan film. Here is a plot synopsis and sales art. I enjoyed the TCM remake, even though I was sure I wouldn't, but I thoroughly deplored the Friday The 13th remake, and I mean thoroughly as in absolutely and completely. There was nothing about that film worth seeing. And I loved the hell out of some Conan movies as a little kid, so I just don't know what to think about this. I will probably try to read one or two of the actual books, because from what I understand, they are great reads.

/Film has a great article relating to Hollywood trying to save it's dying ass via anti-piracy technology which is a little too Big Brother-ish for my tastes. Read that HERE.

If you're a fan of Brett Easton Ellis (writer of the book "American Psycho", which was later adapted as the film that brought Christian Bale to stardom), you're in for good news. Bait is his latest screenplay, Bloody Disgusting has the story.

I'm really looking forward to the big screen adaptation of the Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s comic sensation Kick Ass. The three comics which were my favorites growing up have already been adapted to the big screen, and as much as I love those stories and some of those films, Kick Ass might just be a concept which lends itself to the big screen much more easily. The first set of character one sheets have shown up at IGN. If you're a fan of super hero films, action movies and/or fantasy films, this is something to be excited about.

Last and definitely least, the American Film Market is currently under way. If you're not familiar, follow the link behind the name to the Wiki page, explaining all. Anyway, one more piece of news comes out of this capitalist blood orgy of cinema- the sales art for Scream 4. No, that's not a joke. Follow the link and find the art and some more on the story over at Shock Till You Drop.

And.... I'm spent.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Killer Movie

Maybe you're seeing a pattern here, but there wasn't meant to be one. I've ended up picking two consecutive films whose plots relate to films somehow.

Killer Movie is about a reality show crew shooting in some back country town when someone starts knocking off members of the crew and people in the town. This one succeeds in actually having a plot, and it also succeeds in being satirical and relatively entertaining.

This movie does a decent job of sending up a bunch of the cliche's of the horror genre, without being Scary Movie stupid. I've definitely seen worse movies. The last movie I reviewed, being one of them, by far. 

Killer Movie is well served by not being what it presents itself as. I was expecting a more straightforward, run of the mill slasher film, so it was fun to get something a little more unusual and which is actually trying to be a little bit smarter. This isn't a Scream kind of parody or satire either. It's as much a satire of the Hollywood stereotypes as it is of the horror films or reality television.

It actually does succeed in being a mystery. In watching the entire film, I didn't know what was going to happen or who it was that was doing the dirty deeds. I have to give them some credit for that. Considering the number of movies I watch, it's getting increasingly difficult for me to find a plot mystery I can't figure out in short order.

The short version of the story is that Killer Movie doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it does work pretty well in the same way many of the slasher films from the eighties do. It is descended more from the original Prom Night or the old  Italian giallo's than it does with most of the films being released right now, including the remakes of those films. Killer Movie isn't exactly a killer movie, but it is entertaining, well done, and while the cast isn't exactly Oscar worthy, it almost makes the film work a little bit better because they are all a bunch of Hollywood wannabe's and rejects, they should act like bad actors, because they are bad actors, who want to be taken seriously.

It might not be for everyone, but if you're hanging around on a rainy day with a few hours to kill, you could do worse than Killer Movie.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Midnight Movie

If you go back and read the reviews I've posted here so far, you'll find that basically everything has been a recommendation. I was actually thinking recently that I would eventually have to write a review saying something less than positive about a film.

Midnight Movie, is that film. I found this horrendous turd on The Movie Channel's Video On Demand service. 

Honestly, I want to enjoy movies, especially horror movies. If a film has something it does extremely well, if it has one specific aspect which is truly well done, original or even really interesting and compelling, I can forgive many of it's mistakes.

The killer from a cult horror film is somehow coming out of the film and killing the theater goers who are watching the film. There are probably film makers who could do something interesting with this premise. These film makers didn't.

I could absolutely forgive poor production quality, really poor effects, soap opera quality acting, because I've seen them all before, in better films really. The thing is, there is nothing to redeem this film. There's just nothing here of any value or consequence. It's not even that kind of bad  which is infinitely entertaining. It's just bad, and that's it. There's nothing here to win you over. Even for the hard core horror fans, there's nothing inventive or new about the villain/slasher. He's a retread of a bunch of villians from past films, which really just makes you wish you were watching one of those films,  because they were all infinitely better.

Part of me really hates to say all of this because there was probably someone who really loved the idea of making this movie, and wanted very badly to make sure this was going to get made.The thing is, it's a bad movie, no matter how badly someone wanted it to get made.

I'm suggesting keeping Midnight Movie in the can and making sure it never makes it to a screen near you. This is a terrible, terrible movie. It is a turd.