So Samsung had an event at the big Consumer Electronics Show yesterday, and its centerpiece was the unveiling of their new “curved” television. To help introduce it, they engaged about the only celebrity appropriate for such a stupid, vapid bit of innovation: Transformers director Michael Bay. It didn’t go so well! … Read More
Jeff Garlin’s giggle is one of the greatest things on this earth. If you’ve seen him on Curb Your Enthusiasm or listened to his wonderful By the Way podcast, you’ve heard it; it’s a full, hearty, robust laugh, inexplicably high-pitched considering the deep, Midwestern tones of his normal speaking voice. It’s not the kind of thing you can fake — when he giggles like that, he’s genuinely amused. So it was one of my greatest achievements in life thus far to have prompted that giggle in our recent telephone interview. … Read More
Say what you will about its other flaws — and there’s plenty to say — but Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim (out today in wide release) delivers what it promises: giant goddamn robots fighting giant monsters in the ocean. Gazing upon the magnificence of the film’s enormous machines, it’s easy to marvel at how far moviemakers have come in their onscreen portrayals of mechanical beings. A brief history: … Read More
Disney’s big-budget adaptation of The Lone Ranger bit the big one at the box office last weekend, taking in less than $50 million and ensuring a healthy loss for movie that cost at least five times that. Plenty of theories for its tanking have been bandied about, here and elsewhere: Depp’s star is falling, young audiences are unfamiliar with the character, Westerns are always a hard sell. But here’s one more thought: maybe it’s because word got around that The Lone Ranger ran a befuddlingly inflated 149 minutes, and viewers couldn’t imagine sitting through a summer action movie that was that goddamn long. But it’s not like The Lone Ranger is the sole offender — especially in recent years, more and more filmmakers are pushing their luck with bloated running times that test viewers’ patience and indicate producers and editors falling down on the… Read More
The original 1968 film version of The Producers makes its Blu-ray debut this week, and it’s as funny, outrageous, and tasteless as it was 45 years ago. But while we all know it was Mel Brooks’ feature filmmaking debut and the basis for the Broadway smash, most have forgotten that it also won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay — a shockingly contrary prize from a body that doesn’t tend to hand out statues to comedies, and has thus created a general perception of an “Oscar movie” (i.e., serious drama, preferably with a message of stern social commentary; a period setting and/or a physically or mentally challenged character never hurts). But here are a few movies that fly in the face of that… Read More
For a Michael Bay movie, Pain & Gain is getting remarkably good reviews and positive buzz — even its negative notices are full of phrases like “the most charming Michael Bay movie in a long while.” The primary question that the film’s pro and con critics seem to be arguing over is whether Bay is satirizing the flashy excesses and over-the-top elements of the narrative or reveling in them; it’s a story about the quest for conspicuous consumption, from a filmmaker as obsessed with the idea as his characters. Complicating that question is Pain & Gain’s roots as a true story; it happened in Miami in 1994 and 1995, in the world of bodybuilding and fitness clubs. And how accurate is it to that world? I decided to find out by seeing the movie with a bodybuilder and personal trainer. … Read More
Earlier this week, we told you about Xavier Macafee, the New Mexico man who was arrested on suspicion of burglary after allegedly breaking into Bryan Cranston’s car and stealing, among other things, the script to one of Breaking Bad’s final episodes. While we still don’t know if it was a coincidental act or the work of a brilliant BB superfan, this isn’t the first time a swiped script has created havoc in Hollywood. Here are ten tales of leaked screenplays, and what happened to the films… Read More
This week, since the big sweep of the Independent Spirit Awards by the sure-doesn’t-feel-like-much-of-an-independent-movie Silver Linings Playbook, several film observers (including us) have raised the perennial question of what “independent film” even is, aside from a useful marketing designation that indicates the film you’re about to see will probably not include robots that transform into cars. This ongoing controversy got us thinking: if “independent film” is just a label to begin with, then why not expand it, and get a little more specific? Every film isn’t either indie or studio — let’s break it down, so we know exactly what we’re getting when we go to the cinema. Our suggestions for new, ultra-descriptive movie classifications, from lowest to highest profile, are after the jump. … Read More
Paramount’s upcoming film adaptation of Max Brooks’ novel World War Z was already smelling like a stinker — the $125 million production was originally slated for release this Christmas, only to be pushed back until next summer to accommodate an additional seven weeks of shooting and a third act rewrite by Damon Lindelof (because that’s what that guy’s best at, wrapping things up). That rewrite was eventually done not by Lindelof but by Cabin in the Woods co-writer/director Drew Goddard, and with the reshoots complete, the studio released its first trailer for the film last week. And the Internet went apeshit.
Responses on Twitter and film blogs were swift, damning, and nearly universal. The crux of them was that, simply, the film being advertised appeared to bear little to no resemblance whatsoever to the book it was ostensibly based on. “It’s not always wise to judge a movie by its trailer,” writes Film School Rejects’ Robert Fure, “but from our first look it seems Hollywood has screwed the pooch in the most Hollywood way imaginable.” The book’s multi-narrative structure and elements of social commentary are, it seems, gone; the film’s story of a single protagonist taking on an army of fast-moving zombies looks less like World War Z than I Am Legend.
We’ll have to wait until next June to find out if this controversial trailer reflects the entirety of the film — and if the already poison buzz surrounding World War Z will crash its box office chances. But what has become clear over the past two decades is that the explosion of online film culture can hurt a film’s build-up as much as it can help it; though movie geek sites, Twitter, and even Wikipedia can help amass an audience, they can also keep one away. After the jump, we’ll take a look at ten movies that the Internet may well have smothered in their sleep. … Read More
In his commentary on Armageddon, that ultimate epicure of explosions, Michael Bay notes that the cardinal rule of disaster filmmaking is to “never kill a dog.” Maybe it has to do with their loyalty, or their innocence, but there’s a longstanding cinematic tradition of using dogs in emotionally manipulative ways (anyone else feel betrayed by Turner & Hooch’s family-friendly façade?). And when it’s a real-life canine disaster story, we’re all the more prone to sobbing uncontrollably. Though plenty of movies go the route of driving home an already bleak tragedy with a heartrending finish of caninicide, most of our favorite mass-appeal, special-effects-saturated disaster/action movies opt for the audience pleasing cliché of dogs that, against all odds, miraculously survive. Here’s a list of some of the more implausible canine survival stories in disaster movie history. … Read More