film


Caught the trailer for Inside Job last the other night before Centurion (basically The Dirty Dozen in second century Britain, and as awesome as that sounds). Looks like it shares a lot with an excellent Planet Money/This American Life/ProPublica collab from earlier this year, right down to the name, which bodes well. While it seems like ‘How did this go to hell so badly?’ vein has been mined pretty heavily as of late, there’s still plenty we don’t know about the bastards who broke the global economy and how they got away with it. If director Charles Ferguson’s debut effort, the Oscar-nominated No End in Sight, is any indication, expect this one to be enlightening, compelling, and utterly devoid of hope for any sort of justice or decency to be salvaged from it’s subject.

Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa WHOA!  WHOA!

I like John Krasinski as much as the next guy. He’s a nice enough seeming fella, and a fairly talented performer.

He is not, however, Captain America. I repeat, he is NOT Captain America.

And yet, it looks like he will probably be playing Captain America. This is a national tragedy dwarfed only by the more recent news that we will not get to spend the next few months laughing at what a total fucking asshole Harold Ford, Jr. is. I mean, I guess we can, technically, but it will always be out of context and seem kind of weird.

“Hello, Switzerland! So nice to see everybody, so nice to receive my lifetime acheivement award from this country that has no extradition agreement with the United States! …What? You do have an extradition agreement with the US? Well, I really must be going, I seem to have left an important piece of luggage in France.”

Not so fast, Mr. Polanski.

Noted director and convicted pederast Roman Polanski, aka Pervy von Pervenheimer, was arrested today in Zurich, where he was to accept an award from the Zurich Film Institute. Funny story – the Zurich Film Institute does not actually exist, and is merely the greatest ever prop in the world’s longet running episode of To Catch A Predator.

The arrest follows the botched attempt to capture Polanski at the 2003 Academy Awards, where his Best Director Oscar for The Pianist was presented in a less than traditional manner – situated beneath a cardboard box held up by a stick.

It’s official – I’m upset.

First, this week in remakes brought the initial casting notes on the remake of Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 classic Straw Dogs, which will see James “Cyclops” Marsden take over the Dustin Hoffman role. Also notable is that in the remake, helmed by Rod Lurie, the part of the English Countryside will be played by the Deep South. Peckinpah’s brilliant and disturbing thriller about a young couple attempting to defend themselves against a night of increasingly brutal home invasion hardly needs to be remade at this point, for two reasons.

First off, it’s simply an incredible film, vying with The Wild Bunch  for the storied directors finest work, featuring such unflinching violence that it remained banned in some parts of England until just a few years ago.

And second, pretty much every film in the latest wave of home invasion thrillers, from suckscapade that was The Strangers, to the critically heralded Them, to Michael Haneke’s unnecessary but assuredly lucrative Hollywood remake of his own Funny Games, is more or less a pale remake Peckinpahs classic, owing  their very premise, and often the strongest parts of their execution, to Straw Dogs.

But apparently, that’s not enough. This week also brought news from Variety that a remake of Alan Parker’s 1987 noir-horror cult classic Angel Heart is apparently in the works. An occult detective story featuring absolutely sinister cinematography, nerve wracking pacing and the freakiest sex scene of all time, between Lisa Bonet, Mickey Rourke and several gallons of blood, Angel Heart didn’t catch at the box office but has become a deserving cult classic in it’s second life on home video.

If you haven’t checked out either Straw Dogs or Angel Heart, and too many people haven’t, nows the time to take advantage of the one good thing either of these remakes promise to bring – a little more attention to the deserving originals gathering dust on movie store shelves.

Reheated Popcorn is the little corner of Glaring Health Code Violations that I usually reserve for expressing my dismay at unnecessary remakes like the upcoming Red Dawn, or baffling sequels like Tron 2.0. But I’m not going to complain this week, at least not any more than I already have.

Instead of complaining about the future, I’m going to look to the past and urge everyone to take a look at some of the work Academy Award-winning British cinematographer and director Jack Cardiff who died earlier this week at 94. Over a career spanning seven decades, Cardiff guided the camerawork on a number of films by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, most notably in excellent dramas like  The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and the heartbreaking The Brave One. His finest work may have come in The African Queen or, arguably the Kirk Douglas epic The Vikings, but contemporary audiences will probably be more familiar with his later, action dominated work, like Conan The Destroyer, The Dogs of War and Rambo: First Blood Part II

So, in the interest of lighting a candle, rather than cursing the stupid, stupid darkness, head down to the video store and grab a classic crafted by an artist with a camera. Even if it is a classic starring the Governator.

It’s adaptation-o-rama this week with two films based on earlier works – one that looks crazy good, and one that seems just crazy.

First up, we’ve finally got a trailer for the adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are, and it looks great. I’m pretty skeptical about this adaptation, as I’m sure are a lot of people to whom this story was really special as a kid. But a perhaps preemptive hats off to Spike Jonze – from the looks of a trailer that feels fantastic, goofy, and dark, it would appear that he’s going to pull this one off and do Max and the rest justice. Now, for how the script by Dave Eggers will hold up… we’ll have to wait and see.

Speaking of my treasured childhood memories, it looks like not all of them can be so lucky as to go unsullied. Example –  the Farrely Brothers have finally gotten the green light for their big screen Three Stooges movie. If early reports are to be believed, the casting decisions look like the biggest joke of all – Jim Carrey will probably acquit himself pretty well as Curly, but Benicio del Toro as Moe? Sean Penn as Larry? Really? Penn hasn’t been funny since he was Jeff Spicoli, and del Toro is a great actor, but a comedic giant he ain’t. Now, maybe everyone will surprise us, but at first look, this may be the worst idea since bringing Curly Joe into the fold. So for right now, just take a deep breath, press play, and hold onto the good memories we’ve culled from the Saturday afternoon television lineups of our youth.

With Friday the 13th doing brisk ticket sales and remakes of Escape to Witch Mountain (now with The Rock!) and Last House on the Left (now with more…rape?) due to be swallowed whole by the box office juggernaut that Zack Snyder’s Watchmen promises to be, it was only a matter of time until the next unnecessary rehash got announced.

The Taking of Pelham 123, please stand up for your dubious honor.

When one of the coolest and most original caper flicks of the 70’s gets a reboot, Walter Mathau’s sneering, rumpled transit detective will be played by – Denzel Washington, who else? And for everyone who’s been clamoring for John Travoltas return to action movies, and who hasn’t, you can stop holding your breath – Mr. Saturday Night Fever himself will be reprising Robert Shaw’s smooth, grim and calculating mercenary leader, Mr. Blue. 

One bright spot – director Tony Scott has shown that he can do biting cynicism and gallows humor alongside great action – but it’s been a while, and more recently… well, if you’re hoping for anything but a fast paced but ultimately by the numbers terrorist/crime drama, you may want to save a couple bucks and hit the video store instead of the theater.

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