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Oh yay. It's a skimpily clad CGI-babe. Some of us are still trying to get over "Suicide Squad"!
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Well, the "Ghost in the Shell"-trailer actually looks fairly decent. Didn't see that one coming.
von_geisterhand: Monika küsst Jörg. Sie liebt ihn. (kiss)
So it would appear that all the songs from the RHPS-remake are now on Youtube.... and based on the ones I've seen so far....it's the cowardly playing-it-safe-option I feared it would be... with all the subtextual problems mentioned before.

Because that's all Laverne Cox is, right? Just a sweet transvestite. :-I

Plus, it is heartbreaking to see what state Tim Curry is in after his stroke. ;_;

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"Science Fiction Double Feature" (Credits) from the MTV RHPS

PS: Yes, I know that it's counterproductive to link to it while feeling so negative about it at the same time.
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I really don't know how I feel about the casting of an actual transsexual as the "Sweet Transvestite". :-/ I mean, it's blunt and it's obvious and it's gimmicky but then again it's a FOX production for the "youth of today". I don't really think that releasing another film version of RHPS is the sacrilege that some groups may be treating it as. IMHO it is as necessary/valid as, say that recent run of "Jesus Christ Superstar" featuring John Lydon as Herod. I mean, Joel Grey is cool but Alan Cummings is, too, and he's probably more up to the task of performing an entire musical than Mr. Grey. So, meh!
However I also think that Rocky Horror is very much a product of its time and while it certainly has helped people find themselves/their true sexuality back in the day and while undoubtedly people are still finding likeminded individuals through it even nowadays, it doesn't really hold up any longer. Society has moved on and men in drag are no longer the wreckers of civilisation they used to be.
Also, Frank N. Furter is still an alien, per definitionem "The Inhuman Other". And an evil alien at that. Not really a poster boy for tolerance.
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There has been a "Stonewall"-film for, oh my, 20 years now. I'm not sure if it's still as good as I remember it but I remember it as pretty good. :-)

...although the thought of Roland Emmerich filming the Stonewall Riots the way he normally films the destruction of New York/The World has a certain entertainment value.

Here, have an earworm:
von_geisterhand: Monika küsst Jörg. Sie liebt ihn. (kiss)
Okay, there are is a spoiler of sorts in this text. It is, however, not related to the end joke. You will more or less know the controversial joke at the end of "Kingsman", if you've seen the trailer and/or have a reasonable knowledge of classic Bond-films.

The problem is a more basic one )

*Okay, and maybe for the odd person in the audience to go "Oh, can we have another shot of that cleavage, please? Man, I'm totally freeze-framing this on DVD!"
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"Get him measured for his suit. Get him a gun. I'll be in seat J7."
He can sound posh, he looks good in a suit and he was the best thing in "Pacific Rim". Case closed. Open fire.

Yes, he might be a little too old but there is nothing wrong with going a little "The Dark Knight returns" with 007.
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In the context of "Nymphomaniac Vol. II" the phrase "I don't have enough spoons for this!" gets a wholly new meaning. ;-)
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"The First Wives Club" certainly wasn't a cinematic masterpiece but it was entertaining enough. Plus, it starred proper established actresses with a fair bit of experience when it came to comedy.
"The other Woman", which judging by the trailer is based on a very similar concept stars Cameron Diaz who hasn't been in anything particularly good in the last few years, Leslie Mann (who apparently has and not just in her husband's films), Nicki Minaj (who I suspect would be involved with the soundtrack if they were doing a sequel to Luhrman's "Moulin Rouge!" these days) and Kate Upton's boobs, where "First Wives Club" only had the less ample but (at the time) far more notorious Elizabeth Berkley.
All in all not very enticing.

And then you have "Sex Tape", the trailer for which just proves that swearing is not automatically funny and/or edgy. And I ask myself why I still mistrust the sight of Jason Segel in a film and what happened to Cameron Diaz? I mean, she used to be in good comedies, didn't she?
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Well, what I already said about "An unexpected journey" pretty much also applies to "Desolation of Smaug": If you like Peter Jackson's previous Tolkien-trilogy, you are bound to also have all your dragon-related expectations fulfilled. On a purely subjective level I enjoyed "Smaug" more than "Journey". That might be because this time round the film pretty much lunges into action from the ouset instead of needing 45 minutes to set up everything (we already know from "LotR").
And from then on, it's running, running, fighting, shooting, ominous signs of things to come, brief rest, terror, horror, fighting, stabbing, Ork-related plotting and so on and so forth.
As with the previous instalment, "Smaug" has been generously padded to connect with the other trilogy and while I still don't think that it's necessary, this time round I felt these sequences were better integrated, more interesting and considerably less grating.
Mind you, I can only guess what a person who has seen none of the other films would make of this but then nobody would ever mistake this for a standalone film anyway.
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch's performances essentially carry that film acting-wise and the rest is done by Weta and production design. Of the 13 dwarves, only three stick out from the crowd in any way: Thorin by being the leader and having something notable invested in this quest, Balin by being a source of wise and dramatic lines and Kili for reasons I will go into in a second.

This time I managed to catch a 48fps-HFR-screening and it really does make a difference in terms of picture-quality. I could have done without the 3D but the HFR was nice. Of course one effect of this new technology is that scenes that were obviously shot on a soundstage appear more artificial than they would have during normal projection but seeing that "Smaug", much like "Journey", looks incredibly artificial most of the time anyway, it doesn't matter that much. Unless of course, a 2h+ film looking like a videogame cutscene bothers you. (Incidentally, there is a sequence involving molten metal late in the film that looks worse than what was on display during "Terminator 2". The mind boggles at what might have gone wrong there.) All the other CGI is up to scratch and Smaug himself is a creation worthy to name this installment.

As said before, there are a few sequences hinting at a "larger evil rising" throughout the film and this time round they are less "nudge nudge wink wink" and more integrated into the plot. One addition I could have really done without was Legolas and Tauriel. A friend let me play "Batman: Arkham City" on his computer recently and in it Batman mainly fights with combo-attacks that look spectacular but are accomplished with very few and very simple button-pushes by the player. That is essentially what Tauriel and Legolas are doing here: They are kicking a spectacular amount of Ork-arse, it does look great but quite frankly, if you let any of the other protagonists on screen kick their share of arse, the film would not be poorer for it.
Legolas is only there for the fanboys and -girls anyway and Tauriel mainly so the film gets at least one Bechdel point (There is another named female character who even does/says something significant but it is very brief and to a male character).

Worse than that: slight SPOILER which IMHO will not harm your enjoyment of the film but still )

So in summary: The Hobbit marches on, it is the film we were waiting for and I will be there and back again at the cinema come next season, but with the usual privisos.
And I doubt I will partake in a "LotR/Hobbit"-Extended-Cut-6-film-marathon any time soon.
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Do we really need another "Chucky"-film? No, we probably don't. The "Child's Play"-franchise so far has been a two-trick pony. You had a pretty decent horror film which would have definitely benefited from a little more ambiguity as to whether the killer is really the doll or whether it's actually the little boy but still works well enough as it is. Seriously, even my Mom likes it. And then you had two bog-standard slasher-flicks, providing the gorehounds with what they crave before Ronnie Yu made one of the very rare offspring of "Scream" that actually works on the humour- as well as the horror-level. The less said about "Seed of Chucky", the better.

And now here we have the reboot! *fanfare* Starring Brad Dourif's daughter and Brad Dourif! "Chucky: The next Generation" on so many levels but this time round you get a female instead of a male protagonist. Tropes ahoy!
On the basis of the trailer, I suspect that the new film will not involve a great deal of the ambiguity and actual scariness that made the first film great but instead go for jump-scares, gore and thoroughly vulnerable female characters. I also suspect that I will go any watch the film nevertheless, or at least rent it together with the latest "Hellraiser"-reboot.

The thought that won't leave me alone, though, is that the reworked Chucky looks a lot more like an "evil girl" than his previous incarnations, which considering the female human protagonist and the still male voice looks a lot like a missed opportunity for some intereting new aspects to the franchise.
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Just a quick note on a topic that hordes of others have already written about, and probably will continue to do so. I'll be brief.

You want less gun-related deaths? The solution is not "more guns". Although, in the interest of fairness and science, I would be more than happy to see a segregated area where they try out the "More guns mean safer streets"-approach, as long as there is nobody I hold dear anywhere in that area.

The ubiquitous flipside of this argument is of course that an alternative solution would be to have a ban on violent media, so young and impressionable people won't even get the idea of ever pointing a gun at another human being. In time I will write a post on the difference in public perception of the military in Germany compared to that in the UK/US.
The thing that gets me is that this argument is never really about "Well, the kids constantly see on telly/in films that conflicts are best solved violently and that Might is Right in this world."
They undoubtedly do. As I have said before and as I maintain, Frank Miller's/Zack Snyder's "300" is a glorious fascist wank fantasy, which tells you that being buff and dying in combat is better than living as a deformed hunchback and that diplomats/politicians are inherently untrustworthy. And that's only one of the more blatant examples. Yet this is not the sort of film/medium normally thought of when it comes to finding the reasons for massacres. Rather we end up with things like "A serbian film", "Hostel" and "Human Centipede" and the idea that if we were to ban these film and in this way in time decrease the number of people enjoying these films, we would live in a happier and safer world. Because, you know, who in their right mind really would want to watch something like that? Surely it's only weirdos and psychos and we need less of those!
And hey presto, we have some scapegoats who are not us and can sleep safer at night.

Have you ever tried watching these films? They are pretty unpalatable. They are supposed to be. That's why "those people" watch them. They are Horror films. They leave you in horror, terrified/disturbed/shaken, at best they have a cathartic effect. What they do not do is fill you with the energy and impulse to go out and commit anything as strenuous as a killing spree. That's what "The Matrix" does.
Their extreme nature also means that they would never find a wide audience to spread their craziness amongst, if we assume that that is what they do.

The Hobbit

Dec. 23rd, 2012 04:29 pm
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The short version is: If you liked Peter Jackson's take on "Lord of the Rings", you will probably also like his "Hobbit".
The following will be me moaning on a very high level, only talking about all the things I found difficult about the film while the bottom line remains that I was entertained for nearly all of three hours, might well rewatch the film in 48fps and am looking forward to the next sequel.

Which brings us to the first thing I am feeling sceptical about:
"Lord of the Rings" turned three fairly long books with loads of appendices into three very long films with loads of endings. "The Hobbit" will attempt to turn one normal-length book into three very long films. Leaving cynical thoughts of the likely financial considerations aside, I have to admit that "An unexpected journey" did quite well in terms of padding out the story with other pieces of Tolkien and the obligatory added references to the other trilogy. Now, I could have lived without those, keeping "The Hobbit" autonomous but can see why the decision was made to link trilogies. A legion of fanboys and -girls all over the world probably felt their elven swords glow. And to be fair, it worked. I can even see another film scratching at three hours repeating the trick. Another two films still feels somewhat excessive but I am looking forward to being proven wrong.

The 3D looked alright. There were some of the typical "Gee! Gosh! Golly!-pans, zooms and effects but for the most part I felt that the 3D was used to give the scenery more actual width and depth. The whole thing would have worked just as well in 2D, though. Maybe 48fps will convince me of the third dimension but so far it is at best a slight bonus.
I did not like the increased use of CGI for characters and scenery. Yes, technology has marched on but really the only computer-created character that truly felt real was Gollum, with the Goblin King being the least convincing character.

For reasons that are still not clear to me I also thought that the dwarf make-up was somehow lacking and not much better than the make-up used for Gwildor in "Masters of the Universe" in 1987. at first I also feared that the musical interludes and scenes of young-audience-orientated tomfoolery would spoil my enjoyment of the film but thankfully they kept that at an acceptable level.

The journey continues....


Dec. 19th, 2012 12:09 am
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I finally got round to watching the copy of "Tideland" [personal profile] dingsi sent me ages ago. It was an experience. I, like undoubtedly many, many other, was not terribly impressed by Mr: Gilliam's previous film "The Brothers Grimm" and so I was sincerely hoping that "Tideland" would reintroduce some of the weirdness I loved "Brazil" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for.
And in that respect, "Tideland" did not disappoint. It is probably not too bold a claim to suggest that "Tideland" is Mr. Gilliam's weirdest film in a while, if not ever.
After her mother* dies from a drug overdose, young Jeliza Rose and her father travel to the country in oder to live amongst the plains and fields of an unspecified and arid piece of the American landscape. Here, in the abandoned house of his mother J-R's dad very soon also buys the farm in the intravenous way, a fact Jeliza-Rose remains blissfully unaware of due to her incredible naivité. J-R explores the surrounding area accompanied by her "friends", four doll's heads with distinct personalities she carries on her fingers, running into Dell, an imposing, one-eyed woman looking like a post-apocalyptic gunslinger and her brother Dickens, who looks and acts like a lost member of "Texas Chain Saw Massacre"'s Sawyer family.
And with that, we have now set the scene for a heartwarming story of a young girl escaping her terrible surroundings through the power of fantasy. You know, like in "Pan's Labyrinth".... :-D

I'll stay vague but this gets slightly spoilery )

It is a bold film, and a ride. I cannot think of any other major director who would have dared tackle the material in this way but much like "The Road" it will divide audiences.
Personally, I don't mind it being so dark but would have wished for it to be slightly more of a narrative and not exclusively a mood piece.

* Jennifer Tilly at her white-trashiest.
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In other news, "Dredd" was better than the 1995 version but really did not need to be in 3D. Yes, the drug sequences were pretty but in the rest of the film, it did add very little. Also, as I had already seen "The Raid", I found it hard not thinking of all the things it had already done and done in a more exciting way. Still, should there ever be a sequel, I will probably watch it as there still seems to be a fair bit that could be done with the franchise. And I'm not even a particular fan of 2000AD.

I also saw "Die Friseuse" (The Hairdresser), a film about a heavily overweight, unemployed hairdresser trying to open her own salon against the odds. When the film came out, I thought it was going to be a cheesy comedy and decided against watching it but the actual film is closer to the comedies of Mike Leigh and pretty heartwreching in parts.
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It certainly does not change give me a greater appreciation of the franchise and I can definitely see some issues people might have with the article, but in the interest of impartiality here it is:

The Twilight Legacy: How It's Changing Cinema
Love it or loathe it, Twilight might make the movies better...
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I am still undecided about whether I agree with this highly politicised reading of "The Cabin in the Woods" (Contains spoilers, but then you really can't talk about the film without giving away the central idea) just as I will probably have to rewatch "Firefly" looking for hints of Ayn Rand's philosophy in it.
On the other hand I do agree that "Cabin in the woods" seriously fell down once it tried to go deep. On the surface it is a fairly entertaining ride but when you start to think about "what the film might want to say", you start to notice the logical flaws and half-baked ideas. I see the ending not so much as political but rather as insufficiently developed.
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I made it to the Fantasy Filmfest again this year and despite the fact that I did not watch quite as many films as I wanted to and also despite the fact that the films on offer were not quite as good as in past years (Yes, yes, I know that there is a contradiction hidden in here.), it was a delightful experience once again.

And here are some of the films I managed to see:

Grabbers: Tentacled alien monsters attack a remote irish island and it is up to two Gardas, a drunk, a posh doctor and a landlord to defeat them.
The premise is already silly and with Richard Coyle (of "Coupling"-fame) starring, I expected a silly film. Unfortunately, it only just about met even those expectations. Bluntly put, the film has one idea beyond the basic premise but has no real idea what to do with it, let alone develop the characters or tell a thrilling stories.
Positive aspects include pretty decent CGI, a (comparatively) interesting and strong female character and a "Yay!"-worthy "Aliens"-reference, but all in all it's a film to be watched with others while drunk and possibly with somethis else to watch afterwards.

Killer Joe: A young Texan needs money to pay a debt with a mobster, so he hires a hitman to kill his mother in order to collect the insurance. Things don't go to plan and the killer might have his own agenda.
It's based on a play (Not that you could tell until the last scene.), starts slightly generic but soon picks up to become quite weird and interesting. Matthew McConaughey makes up for all the dreadful romcoms he has been in by being the coolest killer in quite some time, while Gina Gershon is given a role so trashy it would normally end up being played by Jennifer Tilly. Juno Temple gets the most out of a part which might have turned into a real cliche in other hands. It comes recommended but is not for the fainthearted.

Excision. About a young woman with a definite interest in anatomy but little interest in fitting in at school.
Difficult mixture of what is at times a satire of small-town America in parts (including John Waters as a priest charged with counselling the protagonist), an actually quite moving look at a difficult family at others and a look into a seriously disturbed mind (complete with glossy dream sequences full of gore and naked models). In the end it does not fully satisfy on anyof those levels but for those looking for something out of the ordinary, it is definitely worth a look. You might not see a stranger film this year.

Comedown: ASBOs go to party in an abandoned tower block, only to find it not quite abandoned. People die.
Yawn. Absolutely generic and trying to make up for its lack of tension with gore. Next!

Stitches: A clown (Ross Noble) who died during a children's birthday party returns from the dead years later to take his revenge.
There is a sequence in the last third of the film where it seems like it is briefly thinking about having a plot and possibly introducing a smidgen of peril/tension. Then it goes "Nah! Fuck it!".
The film has the thinnest of plots, none of which stands up to any kind of scrutiny, the characters are quckly sketched and their interactions (except for the obligatory love interest) are negligible. In effect the film just needs to set up the party and the clown in order to give Ross Noble to chance to deliver puns and kill teenagers in cartoonishly extreme ways.
It was the funniest thing I have seen in a while and reminded me of Funny Man. Absolutely bonkers and worth watching together with others.

The Possession: A young girl buys a wooden box with strange hebrew letters on and soon finds herself at the arse-end of a possession.
Okay, I have to differentiate: The film is solidly made, glossy, well acted (particular praise to Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the father and Natasha Calis as the possessed girl) and ticks all of the boxes normally required, even if it's not particularly scary or terribly well-scripted on any level.
My problem with it is that the author and director clearly know all the films about the subject matter that came before (in particular "The Exorcist" and "Drag me to Hell" and even bits of "Constantine") but I know those films, too, and know that they were much, much better. There really are no surprises or thrills to be found here and films that use the "Well, you know, kids go a little crazy when their parents divorce" and the "Evil young girl" (Because we know that girls going through puberty are basically possessed by evil spirits) tropes in order to explain why parents do not notice that there is something wrong with their child have already pretty much lost in my book. Not worth it.

The Aggression Scale: Mob hitmen come to wipe out a family but find that the young son of the family may well be more than they can handle.
You remember "Home Alone"? Imagine that played straight with a more violent and very resourceful Kevin. "Home Alone: First Blood" actually describes it pretty well. The film is not perfect by any means but well executed with a good concept. Definitely worth a watch.

Inbred: A group of young offenders on a re-socialisation programme take a trip up to rural Yorkshire. Not all the locals are friendly.
It will do for Yorkshire tourism what "House of 1000 corpses" did for Texas. Setting everything up takes a while but once it gets going, it is deliciously bonkers. Ee by Gum! :-D Consider that a recommendation.


Aug. 16th, 2012 01:31 pm
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(This is spoiler-free as much as possible but I do talk about the film. If you've seen the trailers, there should be no surprises here for you.)

I was disappointed, plain and simple. Yes, it looked gorgeous, as you would expect from Ridley Scott, but the story was absolutely rotten. I imagine that there will be an extended Director's Cut before long, which will undoubtedly make the film better. As it is in cinemas at the moment there is a very strong sense of the finished product having been assembled from three not-all-together-bad films to form an unsatisfying whole:
1) The "Alien"-prequel: "Prometheus" has plenty of elements that hint at the original films, most of all at "Alien". You will have gathered as much from the trailers and the promotional material. Now, personally I can live without having Word of God tell me how the derelict ship and the Space Jockey got where the Nostromo found them (except that it obviously doesn't, as it is a different planet) but I realise that this is one of the main attractions of a prequel, and as a possible explanation, it is okay.
2) The film with the deep message: As Mark Kermode likes to say "SciFi and horror films should be about ideas." and "Prometheus" certainly is. It just doesn't do a lot with these ideas.

Okay, this might get slightly spoilery. )

3) The probably most expensive B-movie ever, with lovely body-horror, a squirm-inducing symbolic bit and a fair bit of Lovecraft. In 3D! Until Senor Del Toro finally makes "At the Mountains of Madness", this will be the closest you will ever come to big-budget shoggoths. On that level the film succeeds and you can even forgive some of the absolutely clichéd and inane dialogue.

The only glimmer of hope is that the sequel hook is quite interesting and that, as mentioned before, the Director's Cut might well be able to rectify some of the problems I had with the film.


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