Music Video Of The Day: Doom and Gloom by The Rolling Stones (2012, directed by Jonas Akerlund)


“The song sounds a lot different than the title. The theme is that Mick is talking to a girl saying, ‘All I hear from you is doom and gloom – let’s go party, let’s go dance.’ It’s an uptempo tune.”

— Organist Chuck Leavell on Doom and Gloom

“At first I said, Hey Mick, ‘Doom and Gloom’ is a kind of weird title for a 50-year celebration, you know? But you know what the Stones are like, it’s always against the grain. But he came up with it and it’s a great track and a really quite ‘funny’ song, actually – there are some great lyrics.”

— Keith Richards on Doom and Gloom

Also according to Keith, Doom and Gloom was one of the quickest recordings that the Rolling Stones ever did.  It only took three takes to lay down the track.  Richards credits that to the chemistry that the Stones have when they’re playing together.  As Keith puts it, the only problem when it comes to recording a new Rolling Stones song is finding a time when everyone can actually get together.

As for the video, it was filmed in a warehouse in Paris and it was directed by Jonas Akerlund, a prolific video director who is best-known for his work with Madonna.  The video stars Noomi Rapace, the Swedish actress who starred in the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy and who later appeared in Prometheus.

One thing about the Stones: they don’t quit.  The band has existed for nearly six decades and they’re still making music that demands to be played loud.

Enjoy!

Trailer: Child 44


I’m looking forward to seeing this movie.  The trailer looks intense and it’s got an amazing cast.  Not only do we have Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy reunited for the first time since Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy but you’ve also got the original (and still the best, regardless of what the Fincherites say) Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace!

Here’s The Trailer for James Gandolfini’s Final Film


The DropEarlier this year, I was one of my many people to be surprised by the fact that James Gandolfini did not receive a posthumous Oscar nomination for his performance in Enough Said.  After all, Gandolfini was a talented and popular actor who died far too early and his performance in Enough Said showed that he was capable of playing a lot more than just Tony Soprano or other gangster types in films like Killing Them Softly.

Judging from this recently released trailer, The Drop will features Gandolfini in the type of role that he was best known for.  Along with Gandolfini, The Drop features Tom Hardy and the only girl with the dragon tattoo who matters, Noomi Rapace.  Perhaps best of all, it was written by Dennis Lehane, whose books have inspired superior crime films like Mystic River, Shutter Island, and Gone, Baby, Gone.

Trash Film Guru Vs. The Summer Blockbusters : “Prometheus”


It’s funny how our expectations going into a film shape our perceptions of it while we’re watching it and, ultimately, our final opinions about it after we’ve seen it. Case in point : yesterday on this very blog I was talking about Snow White And The Huntsman, a movie I frankly expected nothing from, and about how, even though it delivered nothing but a substance-free series of pretty pretty pictures to look at, I wasn’t too pissed off about spending my hard-earned money to see because I wasn’t even sure it would deliver that much (or that little). Today, on the other hand, I’m going to be discussing a flick that I flat-out expected to suck, and that pretty much delivered on those expectations — yet left me feeling pretty well ripped off even though it, too was gorgeous to look at and even though, again, I figured it would be at least as bad as it was, if not worse.

I’m talking, of course, about Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s completely unnecessary Alien prequel. The reasons I went into this with essentially no optimism whatsoever are numerous — Scott hasn’t made a good film since Blade Runner, the script was co-authored by some guy named Jon Spaihts and one of the chief culprits behind the unwatchable, thoroughly confused mess that was TV’s Lost, Damen Lindelof (who’s apparently irked huge segments of the online film geek community with a recent series of over-the-top-in-the-self-serving-department comments), and frankly because any film that set out to “explain” and “demystify” the H.R. Giger-designed evil aliens form the original film series sounded like something with the power to not only be completely pointless (some power), but to actively detract from the impact the first film had by filling in a bunch of blanks that are best left — well, blank.

Of course, there were reasons for optimism, as well — a first-rate cast, sure-fire scrumptious CGI effects, and a promised “return to the Alien series’ roots” after some rather unfortunate side-steps and detours all sounded pretty cool, but I still went into this one prepared for the worst.

I didn’t get that. Instead I got a confused, cliched, every-bit-as-unnecessary-as-I’d-expected mess of a film that, in its defense, at least really does look amazing. Which was enough for me to give Snow White And The Huntsman a pass, admittedly — but hyprocrite that I am I just can’t be as forgiving when it comes to Prometheus. Why not? Because at the end of the day I don’t really give a shit either way about the Snow White legend, but I do care about the Alien franchise. A lot. Scott’s first film rates right up there with John Carpenter’s The Thing on my list of all-time great sci-fi horrors, and I even enjoyed most of the various sequels to one degree or another. So it’s fair to say that, even though I didn’t figure it would be, I still wanted this flick to be good.

So where to begin with the reasons why it wasn’t? Well, how about we start with that stellar cast I mentioned a minute ago. It’s completely wasted. Apart from the film’s “Ripley-lite” protagonist, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, who turns in a heck of a good performance), none of the characters are developed at all. the very talented Idris Elba is stuck in a one-dimensional role as the titular ship’s captain and can’t even seem to decide what accent he should settle on when he’s speaking. Charlize Theron plays an ice princess — again. Michael Fassbender, at the top of pretty much every current Hollywood “hot” list, turns in a dry, uninvolved turn as the ship’s android that won’t be causing Ian Holm to lose any sleep (although, in Fassbender’s defense, the fact that Spaihts and Lindelof reveal that he’s robotic from the outset doesn’t help matters any). Guy Pearce, as old man Weyland, the expedition’s financier, might as well be replaced with a computer-generated stand-in. There’s even a completely pointless two-second cameo from Patrick Wilson inserted for reasons I can’t even begin to fathom. So much talent with oh so little to actually, you know, do.

Then there’s the script. Dear God, what a disaster. Shoehorning a bunch of unnecessary Chariots Of The Gods-style crap into the Alien “mythos” is about the worst direction these truly Lost writers could have chosen to go. Instead of illuminating anything (not , again, that much “illumination” was really needed — the original story stood on its own just fine), it just muddies the waters. There’s some laughably atrocious dialogue that wouldn’t sound out of place in an Ed Wood film (like when the ship’s geologist, in the midst of a massive freak-out, declares ” I like rocks, right? I really like rocks!”). And the main thrust of the action is essentially a direct carbon copy of the “story arc” from the first film (you know, for instance, who the only survivor is going to be from the outset). It’s like Spaihts and Lindelof can’t decide between trying to do something completely out of left field (albeit thoroughly confusing) or just settling on the same old blueprint so in the end, they go for both — and end up doing each competing narrative impulse a massive disservice.

I keep coming back to the amazing visual prowess Scott’s CGI gurus display here consistently from start to finish, and I suppose it’s worth mentioning one more time just to balance the scales here a bit, but what’s that old saying about lipstick on a pig? Prometheus cakes on the makeup, but underneath, its true face is still that of the victim of a particularly nasty car wreck. And like an accident victim, it’s so disfigured and tragic that you’re almost tempted to feel sorry for it — until you learn that said victim was driving drunk at 150 mph and the person in the other car (I guess that would be the audience in this case — bear with me as I stretch this metaphor way beyond the breaking point) didn’t make it out alive.

It takes an almost Herculean effort to not be as bad as I was fearing Prometheus would be yet still somehow leave me feeling even more cheated and let down than I would have felt had it actually been even worse (if that makes any sense at all) —yet that’s exactly what Scott, Spaihts, and Lindelof  have managed to do here. File that under “go figure” and then, to return the already-worn-out accident metaphor, move along, folks — nothing to see here.

Trailer: Prometheus (International Launch)


We get what could be the definitive trailer for Ridley Scott’s prequel to his Alien film.

This latest trailer is the international launch trailer and runs just a shade under 3 minutes. We definitely get a sense of what the film is about but not so much that it spoils the film’s entire story. Some have been anticipating this film since it was first announced and with each release of production stills and teasers the hype just continues to build. Then there are those who hate this film without even seeing it because they see it as either a cash grab or an attempt by a filmmaker to break a string of sub-par films.

I stand pretty much between these two camps. While I’ve always enjoyed Ridley Scott’s work even those he whiffs badly on I’m also hesitant to fully embrace this prequel as a can’t-miss without having seen it. So much about the Alien franchise has been ruined by badly made sequels and mash-ups that it’s going to take something momentous to have me put unquestioned faith back into the franchise.

Maybe Scott returning to something he’s familiar with and having had learned more about filmmaking since the first film means he’ll bring something new to the franchise and help bring it back from the brink of mediocrity. Here’s to hoping that is the case. One thing I’m sure of is that he’s got an all-star cast to work with.

Prometheus is set for a June 8, 2012 release date.

Latest Prometheus Trailer via AMC Theatres


AMC Theatres were cool enough to have Prometheus Director Sir Ridley Scott and Co-Writer Damon Lindelof on hand to discuss some of the ideas behind their film, which opens in June. It looks like the new trailer that comes with it gives away a little more to the overall story, which has easily pushed this into my first pick for that “must see” movie this year. Some of the questions were pretty interesting, some dealing with the possible religious aspects of the story (in terms of the “Big Questions” that are asked), while others asked about connections to the Original Alien. One of the things that Scott pointed out was that he’d been there and done that with the first movie, so he didn’t want this one to be the same as that. One question and answer leaves me with my ears ringing and a cheese like grin stuck on my face:

Attendant: (Paraphrased) “In the original Alien, you had the monster come out of the man’s chest, and the actors didn’t know about it. Should we expect any surprises like that with this film?”

Sir Ridley Scott: “Oooooh yes!” (emphatically nods).

Thanks go out to AMC for making the trailer available on Youtube. Cool stuff. The actual Livestream of the Ridley Scott / Damon Lindelof interview can be found on the Livestream site, which is still repeating the interview that aired earlier this evening.

Why Lisa Marie Wasn’t Going To Review David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo


Originally, I wasn’t even going to write up a review of David Fincher’s rehash of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo because, quite frankly, if you follow me on twitter or if you’ve read any of the GWTDT-related articles that I’ve written on the site, then you already knew that I was going to hate this film.  I knew I was going to hate it.  So, I figured — what’s the point of me repeating what you already know about how I feel? 

So, don’t call this a review because I’m certainly not going to.  This is just how I, as an individual viewer with my own oft-stated prejudices, reacted towards Fincher’s remake.  Take it for what it’s worth.

I knew that I would hate this film because I so loved the Swedish original and, unlike the people who write for sites like AwardsDaily.com, I am willing to be open and honest about my prejudices.  AwardsDaily.com is one of the many sites that decided that the remake would be one of the best films of the year solely because it was being directed by David Fincher and, in their eyes, Fincher can do no wrong.  These are the folks who declared that Rooney Mara was going to give the performance of the year before even seeing the film.  Why?  Once again, the key is Fincher. 

See, that’s the dirty little secret about most film reviewers and cinematic bloggers.  For the most part, they don’t so much critically review a film as they just jump on the bandwagon.  Right now, the bandwagon says that you must love Fincher and, by God, that means you’re going to love Fincher even if the last truly challenging film he made was Zodiac.  To his credit, in interviews, David Fincher comes across as being a lot more level-headed and honest than those who are currently insisting that you must love every movie that he directs simply because he directed it.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  This is not an attack on David Fincher.  David Fincher is a talented director and his films are always watchable.  He’s a director who deserves to be seen and his version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is certainly watchable but, at the same time, is it one of the best films of the year as so many of the Fincherites out there are currently declaring?

Not hardly.

If anything, this is David Fincher on auto-pilot.  This is Fincher being dark because that’s what Fincher does and not because of any sort of sincere artistic impulse on his part.  This is a well-directed film but it’s a dreadfully insincere one.  If you want to a sincerely dark film, see Zodiac.  If you want to see a film specifically designed to appeal to an audience that wants to brag about how brave they are for going to the movies, go see Fincher’s remake of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

The big question, of course, is who is the better Lisbeth — Rooney Mara or Noomi Rapace.  Ever since Fincher was first announced as the director of this film, there has been a steady conspiracy to 1) shove Rooney Mara down our collective throats and 2) make us forget that it was Noomi Rapace that made the original film special and that she was truly the only reason to see the two sequels.  At times, the conspiracy was almost ludicrously obvious.  For instance, as soon as Mara was cast in the role, the editors of AwardsDaily.com suddenly decided that Mara was a lock to get a best supporting actress nomination for The Social Network.  Because, the bandwagon logic went, she had to be the greatest actress of her generation or else why would Fincher pick her?

Well, you know what?  Rooney Mara does fine playing a girl who happens to have a dragon tattoo but she’s not Lisbeth Salander.  She is a male fantasy, a tough girl who needs a man to come through for her.  Rapace’s Lisbeth was a true outsider.  Mara is a little girl lost and all of you Fincherites out there can watch her and fantasize about rescuing her.  Rapace’s Libseth was almost defiantly  asexual.  Mara looks at the camera and silently asks the male viewer to guess what she looks like without all those piercings.  The difference between the two Lisbeths is that Rapace truly doesn’t need a man but Mara is secretly begging to be rescued.  One of the strongest and most independent female characters in film history has been reinterpreted as a male fantasy.  They should have just called this film The Girl With Rooney Mara’s Face.

I suppose that makes the film easier for patriarchal American audiences to swallow.  Perhaps that explains why the audience I was with found it so hilarious when Mara got raped.  Nobody laughed when Rapace got raped but then again, that’s because the rape in the original film was a true violation where the rape in Fincher’s version is just further fuel for male fantasies.

As for the rest of the cast — well, can we just be honest and admit that Daniel Craig isn’t that interesting of an actor?  His version of Mikael is certainly a lot more aggressive than the character is portrayed in either the books or the original movie.  Then again, Daniel Craig’s a big star.  Daniel Craig is James Bond.  You can’t just expect Daniel Craig to play passive.  Daniel Craig’s the man, after all.  As for Stellan Skarsgard and Christopher Plummer — they’re both great actors but how many times they are going to keep playing the exact same freaking characters?

Ultimately, the only real reason for Fincher’s film to exist is so American audiences can watch the story of Libseth Salander without having to read subtitles.

Enjoy it, America!

As I said before, this isn’t a proper review of the film because I’m prejudiced and you know what — if you didn’t enjoy the original Swedish films, you might love Fincher’s remake and more power to you.  You are free to sincerely disagree with me and I will not hold that against you as long as you’re not a condescending toadsucker about it.

Trailer: Prometheus (dir. Ridley Scott)


This week leading up to the Christmas weekend has surely been quite a busy one for film fans everywhere. Earlier in the week we got to see the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises (and to a lesser extent the trailer for Wrath of the Titans). That was soon followed a day later by the first teaser trailer for Peter Jackson’s upcoming return to the world of Middle-Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Now we reach the triumvirate of awesome film trailers for the week with the release of the first official trailer for Ridley Scott’s return to the film franchise which made him a household name and helped redefined sci-fi (especially of the horror variety) films.

The trailer for Prometheus looks beautiful especially when viewed on 720p/1080p HD. It still doesn’t explain just exactly what the plot of the film is, but it does show some interesting imagery which harkens back to the original Alien from 1979. We even get to see a glimpse of the pilot chair where the “space jockey” sits and the very ship itself found by Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo from the first film. Even the trailer pays major homage to the original film by slowly revealing the film’s title one section at a time.

Scott has been saying that Prometheus is not a prequel to Alien and that it’s a film that could stand on it’s own without people needing to see the films in the franchise. So far, we haven’t glimpsed any of the typical xenomorphswhich defines the franchise. Time to see if they make an appearance when the film finally comes out on June 8. 2012.

Film Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (dir. by Guy Ritchie)


One of my favorite films of 2009 was Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes.  I saw the first (of probably many) sequels to that film this weekend.  Now, I have to admit that I was kinda worried about Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.  As much as I loved the first film, it definitely had the feeling of being a happy accident.  There were so many obvious ways to screw the film up that I found myself suspecting that that’s exactly what would happen with the sequel and I worried that a bad sequel would make it impossible for me ever to really enjoy the first film.  Well, having seen Game of Shadows, I can see that no, it’s not as good as the first film.  However, it’s still  pretty good.

Game of Shadows picks up the story a bit after the end of the first film.  Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) is still doing cocaine and solving mysteries in London.  Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is still his best friend and is still planning on getting married and, not surprisingly, Holmes is still not happy about the idea of losing him.  Holmes is also still investigating the mysterious criminal mastermind, Dr. James Moriarty (Jared Harris).  Holmes discovers that Moriarty is behind a series of world-wide anarchist bombings and, with the world on the verge of war, Holmes and Watson attempt to both figure out why and to thwart Moriarty’s scheme.  While I haven’t read enough Sherlock Holmes to say for sure (I read the Hound of the Baskervilles in high school and that’s about it), I get the feeling that, plotwise, this film was probably more James Bond than traditional Sherlock Holmes.  But no matter, it’s an intriguing enough plot and director Ritchie wisely doesn’t spend too much time trying to hammer home that similarities between Moriarty’s scheme and certain modern-day conspiracy theories.

If the first Sherlock Holmes was a comedy with some action scenes, this sequel is definitely an action film with a lot of comedic relief.  Whether or not this increases or diminishes your enjoyment of the sequel really depends on how you feel about the action genre in general.  To be honest, most big budget action films bore me several shades of silly and Game of Shadows pulls out all the usual tricks — slow motion explosions, fist fights full of jump cuts so quick that it becomes impossible to really keep track of who is actually fighting who, and the whole zooming into the barrel of a gun just as the trigger is pulled routine.  And yet these action sequences didn’t inspire my usual eye rolling, if just because it was obvious that the film itself understood just how over-the-top and silly all of it was.  The film has the decency not to demand that I take it seriously and for that, I’m more willing to accept the predictable parts than I would be with a film like Battle L.A.

Besides, even with the increased emphasis on action, the filmmakers still understand that what made the first Sherlock Holmes work was the chemistry between Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law.  Seriously, Downey and Law have some of the strongest chemistry in the movies today.  Certainly, there a more believable couple than Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher.  (It’s probably not a coincidence that the film, very early on, establishes that Watson is getting married and that Holmes is still mourning Rachel McAdams from the previous film.)  You buy their friendship and it’s just fun to watch these two actors bouncing lines off of each other.  Downey still comes across more like Robert Downey. Jr. than Sherlock Holmes (and that’s just fine with me) but Jude Law actually gets a chance to act in this film and he brings a lot of life to a character who, on paper, would just seem to be the prototypical sidekick. 

Joining the cast in this installment as Jarded Harris as the evil Dr. Moriarty and Noomi Rapace as the gypsy fortune teller who gets caught up in Moriarty’s latest scheme.  Now, you may be surprised to hear this with the current efforts to brainwash us all into being Rooney Mara-compliant but Rapace was the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and, regardless of the film establishment’s attempts to revise history, she is the one who made Lisbeth Salander into an icon.  Unfortunately, Rapace doesn’t get to do much here but I was happy to see her if just to know that the Hollywood establishment hadn’t succeeded in erasing her from history.  As Moriarty, Jared Harris doesn’t have a lot of scenes but he still totally dominates the entire film.  Harris’s Moriarty is truly serpent-like, outwardly smooth and calm but, on the inside, always ready to strike.  He makes Moriarty into such a memorable, genuinely threatening villain that he ends up giving the film an extra dimension that otherwise wouldn’t be there.  It’s a great performance and hopefully, when the inevitable third Sherlock Holmes film is made, Moriarty will be back and Harris will be playing him.

Belatedly, here are the Satellite Nominations


One thing about Oscar Season is that you have so many different groups of people tossing around so many different awards that occasionally, you’ll miss a few.  The nominations for the Satellite Awards were announced last Friday but I missed them, largely because nobody really seems to care about the Satellite Awards.  Well, almost nobody.  I care about them because — even when they were known as the Golden Satellites — the Satellite Awards are consistently more interesting than the more mainstream awards.  (For instance, last year, the Satellite Awards had the guts to honor the one and only true girl with the dragon tattoo, Noomi Rapace.)

Best Picture

The Artist

The Descendants

Drive

The Help

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

Moneyball

Shame

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

War Horse

What?  No love for David Fincher’s rip-off of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo?  The AwardsDaily folks must be throwing a fit.  (They’ve been promoting Fincher’s rehash with the same enthusiasm that they attempted to promote Nine two years ago.)

Best Actor

George Clooney in The Descendants

Leonardo DiCaprio in J. Edgar

Michael Fassbender in Shame

Brendan Gleeson in The Guard

Ryan Gosling in Drive

Tom Hardy in The Warrior

Woody Harrelson in Rampart

Gary Oldman in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Brad Pitt in Moneyball

Michael Shannon in Take Shelter

It’s nice to see Brendan Gleeson get some love.  It’s also interesting to note that Michael Shannon’s performance in Take Shelter has been getting a lot of recognition.  Count me among those who hopes that Shannon gets, at the very least, a nomination for giving a great performance in a horror film.

Best Actress

Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs

Olivia Colman in Tryannasour

Viola Davis for The Help

Vera Farmiga in Higher Ground

Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene

Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady

Charlize Theron in Young Adult

Emily Watson in Oarnges and Sunshine

Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn

Michelle Yeoh in The Lady

Much as the Satellites recognized the work of Noomi Rapace last year, this year they continue to at least nominate some great performances that are being ignored by the mainstream.  In a perfect world, both Verma Farmiga and Higher Ground would be major contenders.

Best Supporting Actor

Kenneth Branagh in My Week With Marilyn

Albert Brooks in Drive

Colin Farrell in Horrible Bosses

Jonah Hill in Moneyball

Viggo Mortensen in A Dangerous Method

Nick Nolte in Warrior

Christopher Plummer in Beginners

Andy Serkis for Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Christoph Waltz in Carnage

Hugo Weaving in Oranges and Sunshine

Wouldn’t it be cool if Andy Serkis actually got an Oscar nomination?  It’s also nice to see Jonah Hill finally getting some recognition for Moneyball.  Brad Pitt has been honored largely for playing Brad Pitt in that film.  Hill actually gave a performance.

Best Supporting Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Tree of Life

Elle Fanning in Super 8

Lisa Feret in Mozart’s Sister

Judy Greer in The Descendants

Rachel McAdams in Midnight in Paris

Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs

Carey Mulligan in Shame

Vanessa Redgrave in Coriolanus

Octavia Spencer in The Help

Kate Winslet in Carnage

I haven’t seen Shame yet but Carey Mulligan is one of my favorite actresses and she deserved an Oscar for her performance in An Education.  It’s also nice to see Judy Greer getting some recognition for giving one of the few performances in The Descendants that’s actually going to pass the test of time.

The full list of nominees can be found here.