“Impede my mission once more and I will beat you until you are dead.” I swear, I’ll never forget that line, especially coming from Rebecca Hall.
Showcased in this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Andrew Semans’ Ressurection is set to release in theatres by IFC Films and will also appear on Shudder. Rebecca Hall (Passing, Iron Man 3)gave a wild performance as Margaret, a woman revisited by someone (Tim Roth, The Hateful Eight) with a secret that can tear her family apart. The lengths to which Margaret goes to protect her daughter takes her to some extremes. This was one of four films I saw during Sundance’s VOD showings, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.
Resurrection will be released in theatres on August 5th and then on Shudder soon after.
Anyone who saw Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness was treated to the Teaser Trailer for James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water. This one shocked me because it picked up a bit of applause in the theatre. After all, it’s been 13 years. Not that anyone ever asked for a sequel (or 2 more), I get the feeling Cameron has faith in himself and his crew.
Two things really stood out for me with this teaser. One, Mech-Spiders fixing buildings, what are those?! Two, is that Simon Franglen’s score playing? It’s nice, and with James Horner gone (and missed), I’m hoping the rest of it will be good.
Taking place some time after the first story, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) have a family now, and we’ll get to see Pandora’s watery depths. Supposedly, Cameron’s been pushing for upgrades in 3D technology, so it’ll be interesting to find out what advances have happened in a decade.
Avatar: The Way of Water is set for a December release.
I absolutely love Love Death + Robots! Since the first Volume aired, I’ve been hooked on this series, which is produced by David Fincher. It feels like a mix between The Animatrix and MTV’s Liquid Television (which spawned Aeon Flux). I’ve been a bit out of the mix, so I forgot this was in production. Nine new short animated pieces using various styles will air when Vol 3 drops May 20, exclusively on Netflix.
David Cronenberg’s been keeping busy with his latest, Crimes of the Future. It looks like Existenz, but with major upgrades. The film stars Academy Award Nominee Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises, A History of Violence), Léa Seydoux (No Time to Die), and Academy Award Nominee Kristen Stewart (Spencer). I can’t begin to understand what the plot’s about, but given it’s Cronenberg, we’re all in.
Crimes of the Future will compete in this years Cannes Film Festival for the coveted Palm d’Or.
The following was posted on 4/6/2007 from my LiveJournal on Grindhouse (which is celebrating it’s 15th Anniversary). I’ll admit I respect Death Proof a bit more now than I did back then:
Gotta write fast. Have to jump into shower and head for work.
I got into the movie theatre at about 8pm, and spent the hour talking with a pair of film students from the School of Visual Arts. At 9 (an hour before the movie), the rest of the sold out crowd appeared. I was officially 3rd in line. Sweet. 🙂 I didn’t my preferred seat (the single one on the right reserved for patrons coming in with someone in a wheelchair), but did get a seat in the empty row (meaning I could stretch my legs, even better).
The short of it: Grindhouse is paying one low price for 2 bad movies, on purpose. You get 3 great built in trailers, and two mini movies. Between the two mini movies, I loved “Planet Terror” (the Rodriguez one) more than “Death Proof” (The Tarantino film), simply because Death Proof had too much of Tarantino’s conversational style that all of his films have. It’s like you’re listening to a conversation that absolutely doesn’t tie itself to any of the storyline’s major points. It’s just “cool” stuff, but I literally almost fell asleep until Kurt Russell showed up on screen. I think that if one knows to expect this from Tarantino, it comes across better. It’s like watching both Kill Bill volumes back to back. The first one’s cool and action packed, and the second one has some action (the chase scene alone in Death Proof had me wondering how they did that), but is so slow before getting there, you want to sigh.
Being a Charmed Fan, it was great to see Rose McGowan again, and there were so many cameos to laugh at. Fergie has a cameo, and Michael Biehn’s (“Hicks” from Aliens, Navy Seals) even in this. Where did they dig up these guys?
Grindhouse is easily a party film. I’d go see it again in the theatre, but I don’t see myself getting the DVD. It takes you back about a good 30 years, and does that really well. There are missing reels, serious jump cuts in the film and the sound sometimes cuts out. 🙂 In that sense, it’s really beautiful. The audience laughed and applauded, though there were some that at the end were like “Man, that sucked.” In the 60’s and 70’s, Grindhouse movies were pretty bad. I guess it’s like watching one of those old Hammer films, mixed in with a cheap horror flick. You have to walk into this movie not expecting “The Departed” for it to work. Just have fun with what you’re seeing and remember, this is what your parents sometimes saw in the movies (it should be noted that my parents went to something of a Grindhouse once – the movie they went to see was Night of the Living Dead. The other movie that was in the show was John Carpenter’s “Halloween”, which freaked my Dad out).
The music in particular is really great. Robert Rodriguez, Chingon, and a few friends come up with a sound for Planet Terror that’s in essence a John Carpenter like sound. If you have access to the Itunes Music Store, give it a listen (I bought it). Plus, if you’re a fan of some of the older movies out there, you’ll find references to some of Carpenter’s films in there (for example, one of the songs from “Escape from New York” is actually used in the film). The same occurs with the soundtrack from “Creepshow” – The story with the drowned couple. There are also tons of older Tarantino/Rodriguez references in there. One fellow actually yelled out a line, word for word, from what was on screen. It took me a second to realize the line came from “From Dusk Till Dawn”. Sweet.
The in betwen trailers are absolutely fantastic. If I were to get the DVD, it would probably be for this reason alone. You can tell that Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and Eli Roth (Hostel) really had fun with their pieces.
So, Grindhouse is worth seeing in theatre at least once with a bunch of friends, but know what you’re walking into. The movie can get gross at times and no young kid should even be brought near to this (we got carded to actually get into the theatre, and a Weinstein Rep. was on hand after the film to let us take surveys). Also before the movies, one of the teaser trailers is for Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”. I haven’t been so excited for a horror film like this since Zack Snyder’s version of “Dawn of the Dead”. This looks really good, and I’m wondering what Michael Myers is going to look like when someone like Tyler Mane (Sabretooth from the first X-Men movie) is playing him. That’s going to be creepy.
I’ll admit, watching the trailer for A24’s Marcel The Shell With Shoes, I was a little amused. The story of a Shell looking to find their family is cute, but once Phil Collins’ “Take Me Home” kicked in, I was hooked. A24 is known for being weird, and this doesn’t look like it’ll disappoint.
Marcel The Shell With Shoes On stars Jenny Slate (Zootopia), Rosa Salazar (Alita: Battle Angel), and Isabella Rossellini (Death Becomes Her), and will be released this June.
Although it lacks an Overture and an Intermission, Steven Spielberg’s rendition of 1961’s West Side Story flows well and does the story justice. Remakes are tricky things, you know. Stay too close to the source material and you end up with the line for line, shot for shot weirdness of Gus Van Zant’s Psycho. Stray too far from it and you discover something experimental and head scratching, like Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria. West Side Story is in the middle of it all. It’s the same story you know and love, just taken from some new angles. I just wish the supporting cast hadn’t overshadowed the leads. My Aunt was a huge fan of the original, and I like to think she might have appreciated this one. It was worth catching it on the big screen back in December, and as of this writing, West Side Story is now available on Disney Plus and other streaming networks.
West Side Story is basically Romeo and Juliet, with two rival gangs (the Jets and the Sharks), fighting for territory in a battered New York City. When Tony (Ansel Elgort) meets Maria (Rachel Zegler), sparks fly between them, but it sets the stage for a dangerous confrontation between both gangs.
West Side Story marks another Spielberg production that doesn’t have John Williams at his side. While it saddens me that the two aren’t working together (and let’s face it, having just celebrated his 90th Birthday, Williams has easily earned a well deserved rest), the music for the film is in great hands. Originally composed by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, the music was handled by David Newman (Serenity) this time around, at Williams’ recommendation. One thing to learn here if you’re new to movies – David Newman is part of the Newman family of musicians that includes Thomas Newman (Wall-E, The Shawshank Redemption and just about any film Sam Mendes made), Randy Newman (Toy Story), and Alfred Newman, who created that 20th Century Fox fanfare you used to hear when watching Star Wars. Things remain mostly unchanged for the songs that were in the 1961 original, but there’s one additional piece (at least to me, anyway). “Somewhere” is sung by Rita Moreno’s character, rather than the leads. Not every song is exactly the same as the original (and it really shouldn’t be), but it’s very close. The only quirk I really had was for my favorite song, “Officer Krupke”, which changes things up just a little. It should be noted that everyone on screen is signing here, whereas in the original, it was mainly George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn who sung their own parts (something I only learned just now in writing about this). I loved the whole element with Riff getting whacked over the head with the newspaper. Every other song has some magic to it, and with Janusz Kaminski as Spielberg’s Director of Photography, there are some fantastic uses of the camera in many shots. Guillermo Del Toro recently raved about the dance sequence, and it’s a great sequence. Sometimes, it’s also the subtle moments. My favorite comes in “A Boy Like That”. In the original, there was a glass door with a blue, yellow and red glass paneling. Spielberg still showcases the color pattern, but with the drapes instead. It was a cute homage to the original, I felt.
I also enjoyed what Tony Kushner did with the script. There’s a lot of Spanish in the film that’s given without any subtitles at all. I’m not sure if that was his decision or Spielberg’s, but for the most part, the feelings are clearly conveyed, whether you can understand what’s being said or not.
Writing is usually supposed to be without bias. I believe the sexual assault allegations against Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver) affected West Side Story’s success, somewhat. At my 7pm showing back in December, there weren’t many seats taken up for the film. That, or perhaps musicals aren’t as popular as they used to be (used to be being only a month prior with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tick Tock Boom!). Add to that a Pandemic we thought we were slowly breaking out of only to discover a return with renewed fervor and what could have been gigantic just didn’t seem so. My own biases were in part to blame for not writing about this movie sooner. I didn’t hate the film by any means – I really enjoyed it – I just didn’t want to throw in to the whole cancel culture that screamed “This person did bad things, smite him from our film and shun them from our memories.” (though I suppose by adding this, I am doing just that). Whatever the case, Elgort’s Tony isn’t terrible in any way. Based on his performance in Baby Driver, he would have been my go to pick as well. I just didn’t feel as much for the character as I thought I would, knowing that I found about the actor. Tony’s the only character in this one where I felt they could have swapped in a CGI Richard Beymer and it would have worked fine.
The opposite could be said of Zegler. She has an incredible voice and screen presence, and fits into Maria so well that you might forget you’re watching actors on screen. I hope to see her do more in the future (and while we’re on that topic, let her sit in at the Oscars. What’s one more seat, anyway?)
From top to bottom, West Side Story is stacked with a mix of veterans and young talent that we hope to see more of in the future. Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the original, returns a Doc, the owner of a store (which also makes a nice connection to the previous film). Brian D’Arcy James (Molly’s Game) is on hand as Officer Krupke. Corey Stoll (Ant-Man) plays Lt. Schrank, and that’s about the bulk of the adults you’ll run into other than teachers and the like. For the Jets and Sharks, we have Maddie Ziegler (who is Sia’s Muse) as Velma. We also have Mike Faist as Riff and David Alvarez as Bernardo, who were just fantastic. It is an absolute shame that either actor didn’t gain some kind of recognition during the award season. Thank goodness that at least Ariana DeBose (Hamilton) portrayal of Anita is getting some love. She lights up every scene she’s in, whether it’s dancing or showing grief. She’s my pick for Best Supporting Actress this year, though that position is stacked with some strong nominees.
Overall, West Side Story was a surprise for me. Spielberg hits the right marks, and I feel you can sit it next to Wise’s production. Whatever mood you happen to be in, you can pick one and enjoy. The supporting cast may overshadow the leads, but not so much that it ruins the film.
I slept on it before writing this, to let the euphoria pass.
Matt Reeves’ The Batman surprised me in a number of ways, some of which can’t be mentioned without throwing spoilers. I’ll perhaps write a second piece on this, but for now, understand that this film has effectively pushed The Dark Knight to the side as my favorite live-action Batman film (The Lego Batman Movie stands on a pedestal all it’s own above all the rest). My favorite Batman stories are the detective tales. Gotham by Gaslight. The Long Halloween. Hush.
On film, the Caped Crusader has moments of investigation, but they often took a backseat either to the action or the resolution came as quickly as a Batcomputer search. For me, The Batman had closer ties to films like David Fincher’s Seven, Alan J. Pakula’s Klute, Bruce Malmuth’s Nighthawks, and even Shane Black’s The Nice Guys to some degree. It does all this legwork while finding a way to avoid giving us the same clip of the Monarch Shooting of the Waynes. That alone is worth it for me. This is Batman. After more than 9 films, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone on the planet younger than maybe six who doesn’t know how he got that way.
Living in NYC, I can relate to Gotham City. On the surface, it’s beautiful. For those who can afford it, there are tons of amenities available to its citizens. Peel back that layer, though, and you’ll always have Crime in a city holding 9 million people. It’s a constant as rain. Gotham City is on the verge of breakdown. Looking at the torn poster filled streets and I was reminded of a cross between Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire and Alex Proyas’ The Crow .and the way most of Manhattan looks now with it’s closed down stores. The city almost serves as a character itself in The Batman. It’s a throwback to some of the classic black and white detective movies my parents grew up on like 1947’s Kiss of Death. For all his gadgets and resources, there’s an argument suggesting the Batman can never really save his beloved city, though we love his efforts.
“Forget it, Bruce. It’s Gotham.” one might as well say.
Visually, the movie is a little dark, but that makes sense given the tone of the film. Cinematographer Greig Fraser (Dune, Zero Dark Thirty) is somewhat new to me, but I’m liking his work, which felt a little like Janusz Kaminski’s Lost Souls. It wasn’t dark to the point where I couldn’t make out elements (and I was sitting in the front row, far left side in my theatre), I’ll say that much. I’ll keep an eye on him in the future.
The Batman takes place in our hero’s second to third year, according to an early narration (much like Blade Runner). Batman has a good rapport with Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright, No Time to Die) and his butler, Alfred (Andy Serkis, reuniting with Reeves since Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), for the most part, there are some results. Criminals flee when the bat symbol shines in the night sky, because no one really knows where The Dark Knight will strike. A new murder brings both Gordon and the Batman into play, as his opponent leaves various riddles for them to solve. The mystery brings Batman into various circles, including those of Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz, Kimi), crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro, The Big Lebowski) and Oz (Colin Farrell, The Gentlemen). They all bring in great performances, including Peter Sarsgaard (Green Lantern), but it’s Paul Dano (Ruby Sparks, There Will Be Blood) who really runs away with things as The Riddler. I’ve never considered The Riddler to be a creepy villain, but this was quite dark, even for DC’s standards. I can’t imagine how it would have turned out if this was a Rated R film. I’m really curious to know.
Bruce Wayne has never been an easy character to handle on screen.
There are whole books written on the Psychology of the Batman. Here you have an individual who witnessed his parents being murdered as a kid and grows up in a near empty mansion with butlers and maids. The individual decides to dedicate his life (and vast resources) to studying criminal investigation techniques, martial arts and even Ninjitsu for a singular focus: To rid Gotham City of Crime. Add to this the concept of instilling fear in one’s enemies, and dressing up like a Bat to pummel thugs with fists and gadgets just adds to Wayne’s madness. Pattinson honed in on this and turns Bruce Wayne into a pretty isolated and brooding individual. For someone with nearly unlimited resources, he doesn’t seem happy with any of it at all. At least Keaton pretended to party and Clooney’s Wayne truly did party. Bale’s Wayne let Fox focus on research and development. Hell, even Affleck’s Wayne recognized he was rich and flaunted it like a superpower all its own. Pattinson’s Batman is lean and really looks like the kind of guy you might find stepping out of the shadows just past Wall Street late at night. No offense to Affleck’s Batman, who for some is the pinnacle of what the character should be, but I’ve always associated that look with the older, fresh out of retirement Batman of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.
Together, Pattinson and Kravitz’ chemistry was really nice on screen. I’ll admit, I enjoyed the romance between the two. Both characters accept tha they’re Creatures of the Night, and there’s this sweet give and take between the two as they nudge each other. Selina doesn’t have to do crime, and Batman doesn’t have to be the spirit of Vengeance, but they’re caught up in what works best for them. I enjoyed that aspect.
At first listen (about a week ago), I thought Michael Giacchino’s theme needed something outside of the four note motif it had. Hearing the music with the movie is a different beast, and I have to say, it works really well here. In some places, it’s as minimalistic as Hans Zimmer’s Nolan scores.
Now, a little Devil’s Advocate. The main problem I had with The Batman was the same I had with Spider-Man: No Way Home. I understand DC & Warner Bros. want to draw people into the theatre, but in this age where every element of a trailer is scanned and studied, I’d argue that 40% of the action you watched on screen were already somewhat spoiled by the trailer (or trailers, if you watched every one the Warners released). I’m not saying one should refrain from watching trailers – I only watched the teaser and the main trailer – but I would have liked if they held some scenes back. One might also argue The Batman was lighter on action than the other films, but it’s the detective work and the character performances that make up for it.
There’s also a lot of rain. Almost too much. Remember the sequence in Jurassic Park with the first appearance of the T-Rex? I would say that most of The Batman is set under somewhat similar conditions. It felt like it either just rained, was about to, or you were in the middle of a downpour. Then again, so did The Crow. Perhaps that’s just a nitpick on my part.
Also, clocking in at 2 hours and 56 minutes, it’s a long film. You might not really notice it, but I’d go so far to say that the time didn’t feel wasted. I noticed 3 or 4 people who left for the restroom in my showing, if that’s any indication.
Overall, The Batman was a wonderful surprise from the DC side of things, and I’m liking the direction it’s going. It might not be a completely connected universe like Marvel’s lineup, but they’re proving they can still weave some amazing stories with the characters they have.
On the surface, Deep Water just looks like “The movie Ben and Ana did during Lockdown”, but with Adrian Lyne’s name attached to this, I’ve had a double take. Lyne is responsible for Flashdance, 9 1/2 Weeks, Indecent Proposal and Unfaithful. I’m curious about where this one is going. Judging from the heavy breathing, it seems this couple is good at giving tummy tickles.
It looks like life found a way yet again to bring us another Jurassic World film. This time around, the dinosaurs appear to be out and everywhere on the planet. It’s like someone at Universal saw Mission Impossible: Fallout and said “How about we try all of that, but with Dinosaurs?!”
Motorcycle chases? Check, now with dinos.
Issues on a flight? Check, now with dinos.
I’ll admit though that I’m excited for this one. I’ve always wanted to see a Jurassic Park scenario where Dinosaurs reached the mainland, and The Lost World was possibly the closest we had there. It’s also cool to see that Blue (everyone’s favorite Raptor) has a little one of her own!
This third film brings back both Sam Neill and Laura Dern, reprising their roles as Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler. Jeff Goldblum and B.D. Wong are back as well with the Jurassic World cast, Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Isabella Sermon, Daniella Pineda, Justice Smith, and Omar Sy. Dichen Lachman (Netflix’s Altered Carbon) and Mamoudou Athie (Underwater) are new to the series.
Jurassic Park Dominion premieres in theatres June 10, with Colin Trevorrow returning as Director.