Impressive start for what’s sure to be a massive viral campaign for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. That’s Guy Pierce in-character as CEO of the company that employed/terrorized Sigourney Weaver in the Alien films.
I first heard of this a few weeks before Christmas, thought about posting it, then didn’t bother since I was so late to the game. Then I contemplated posting it in a random thread and promptly went on vacation. We’re now well into the new year and I don’t think anyone has discussed it yet, so I’m presenting it for your enjoyment here.
There isn’t much prep needed other than to know that this guy mainly reviews Star Trek and his schtick is the slurred voice (which I heard emulates someone that I am not familiar with, but did remind me to put the lotion on my skin) and pizza roll references all wrapped up in a serial rapist/killer bow. That lattter “storyline” is tedious at best and offensive at worst but if you can get past it, there is some serious film critique mixed in with comments I found hilarious.
If you have ~70 minutes please watch the whole thing. If you only have 10 minutes, just watch part 1. But if you’re pressed for time and have just about 5 minutes I’d recommend the end of Part 6 beginning at the 5 minute mark here. Oh yeah, and the language makes it carry the NSFW tag.
If you would allow me, for just a moment, to speak on something I bring up not to be a firestarter, not to throw tinder on a smoldering set of pine needles nestled somewhere deep in the San Fernando Valley, but rather to ask, to foment discussion and out of a true sense of “Why?”: How have these films become the critical and commercial success they have? Are they popular because of their pedigree? Their director, stars, filming location/backstory, etc.? Are they looked-upon as they are because everyone everywhere decides you must look on them with reverence simply because everyone else tells you to?
If you can explain to me why these films are what they are and the reason they are that way, then please, by all means, let me know. But do not just throw in simple explanations like: “You’re retarded, that’s why you don’t get it.” (And please don’t use retarded as a pejorative. It’s juvenile and really insensitive.)
So with no further adieu, I give you Part 1 of the list of movies that I just. don’t. get.
First-and-absolutely-foremost on my list is that bloated carcass of an “epic”:
1. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
Okay. I know what you are all going to say. I know the backlash this will engender and I know I must be out of my mind. But I’m being completely honest when I say I Just. Don’t. Get. It. This is a bloated 3-hour mass of men riding camels through the desert. I tried recently to watch this again and, once again, I saw the same thing. So what is it? The cinematography? Then say that. Is it the direction? Then say that. Is it the acting? All this seems to me is a director at the height of his power making the movie he wanted to make…and everyone drinking the Kool-Aid of an obvious master.
2. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Okay. I’ll give you Fargo. Probably more-so, Raising Arizona. Hell, I even loved Hudsucker Proxy for what it was. But this movie? With a script that was probably thirty pages of actual screenplay that goes nowhere but back around on itself and a thumb-its-nose-at-convention ending, I think this is a great example of critics getting together and asserting their will for a pair of filmmakers who are well-liked and who can influence academy voters and decided they would make a campaign to elevate a decent movie that is simply a generic heist thriller polished with the wry approach of two masters-of-the-game. Even more criminal than how Kevin Costner and Dances with Wolves took the Oscar from Goodfellas was the idea that this movie could beat There Will Be Blood and the upstart Paul Thomas Anderson. “Okay, Coens, you have Tommy Lee Jones as a sheriff? Javier Bardem in a bowl cut? A suitcase of money? Josh Brolin finally coming into his own? And what do you have, Paul? Daniel-Day? With a Noah Cross voice? And a really good oil derrick scene? Here’s a cinematography Oscar.”
And these shorts just keep getting better.
Just when I think I’ve found my favorite early works, another comes along to take its rightful place at the top of the food chain.
First, is Burton’s stop-motion masterpiece, VINCENT.
This is a strikingly-shot and handsomely-written film spoken in a verse-style that appears to be an autobiographical script of what one would surmise Mr. Burton grew up wanting to be.
The young man involved describes how he grew up wanting to be Vincent Price and how he has different ideas of things he wants to do compared, I assume, to what the status quo says to do.
Enough from me. Enjoy this, the first Tim Burton film. A true masterpiece of lighting, animation and writing.
“You’re not Vincent Price, you’re Vincent Malloy. You’re not tormented or insane, you’re just a young boy.”
Why this has not become a legendary children’s story, I don’t know.
**Interesting fact: Burton’s girlfriend, an executive at Disney, produced this.
The next I could only find in three parts:
His first major foray into directing, with big names and production values, but still an early film, was FRANKENWEENIE.
Filled again, with stark blacks and whites and harsh shafts of light in a world that, rather than seemingly shot on a backlot, seems to exist perfectly in that Leave It To Beaver world where if you visited the backlot, you would think you were intruding on a neighborhood you shouldn’t be disturbing.
This is, once again, a masterpiece of the psychological underpinning of what it takes to be a child in a world that shows how random terrible things can happen…and what some children think they may be able to do to reverse the awful fates that befall some things.
No doubt, Burton just wondered what it would be like to bring back a dead dog, but he added so much more depth to that simple idea.
Dare I say, I feel, after viewing these two films, Burton has fallen far off his initial brilliance as he made his way through the studio system. What types of movies could this man have made had he stayed independent?
My love of Batman aside, that movie now seems like a large wart of a blemish on his career, a steam-rolled contract hit fostered by those two wunderkind of the Sony system who, it seems, fooled everyone in a town where what you can say and get means more than what you can do. But who am I to question men who make so much money in a very profitable business.
And please don’t get angry, but after these films, Burton strikes me as the dark version of Steven Spielberg, making pitch-prefect representations of the dark side of suburbia, what kids think of when they think about what they wouldn’t want to tell anyone.
All of that aside, this is a great movie, a sign of a brilliant talent, and a very enjoyable watch, with an ending that brings child and adult together in the implication of Burton saying that no one is immune to child’s impulses.
Volume 2 of this series now focuses on two of Scorsese’s early short films.
The first is:
What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?
This was a Scorsese short film that seemed to fall between his first film, Vesuvius VI (which I couldn’t find, and which is apparently, amazingly, a Roman Epic inspired by 77 Sunset Strip. Man…I want to see that) and It’s Not Just You, Murray!, about an aging mobster, which seems to be available on an anthology entitled Early Works.
In this short, you can find the energy and style that would color his later films. There are some really-well-done camera shots, like at 3:18, an awesome dolly around an illuminated face.
The second short, made in 1967, arguably his most popular and well-known, is the short entitled The Big Shave or Viet-’67.
This is apparently an allegory on the Vietnam war how Scorsese saw it at the time. I was a bit trepadatious about how much praise I’ve heard about this short, but it’s surprisingly well-made and really rather affecting, given the idea of what Scorsese was obviously going for, given the alternate title.
It’s a very simple short, and pretty powerful. With an economy of place and some great music, we watch a man enter the bathroom and…shave. What happens at the end is where it gets pretty powerful and intense.
One thing that sticks out to me, pretty greatly, is how well-edited the two shorts happen to be. Operating at a pretty high level for being so early.
Enjoy. Let me know what you think…
So I thought I would try something new here and do a series of posts on the early, early works of directors I admire and who I think have made major contributions to the medium of filmmaking.
For the inaugural post I thought I would shed light on a really early work of a major Hollywood director, Quentin Tarantino.
From the YouTube Synopsis by username World2008rain:
“My Best Friend’s Birthday (1987) is an unfinished black and white independent film by Craig Hamann and Quentin Tarantino, while they were working at the now shuttered Video Archives in Manhattan Beach, California. The project started in 1984, when Hamann wrote a short 30-40 page script about a young man who continually tries to do something nice for his friend’s birthday, only to have his efforts backfire. Tarantino became attached to the project as co-writer and director, and he and Hamann expanded the short script into an 80 page script. On an estimated budget of $5,000, they shot the film on 16mm over the course of the next four years. Hamann and Tarantino starred in the film, along with several video store and acting class buddies, and worked on the crew, which included fellow Video Archives employees Rand Vossler and Roger Avary. The film is the most overtly comic that Tarantino has made. Tarantino himself referred to it as like a “Jerry Lewis movie”. The original cut was about 70 minutes long but due to a fire only 36 minutes of the film survived. The 36 minute cut has been shown at several film festivals. It has never been officially released.”
A few thoughts:
1.) Listen closely in the first part and you’ll hear the name of a familiar radio station.
2.) The man who comes out of the bathroom in part 2 is, apparently, one of the police with the German Shepherd in the bathroom in Reservoir Dogs.
3.) Starting at 4:50 of the second part there is a rather ambitious and pretty brilliant shot that is one take and involves no cuts and what I can only assume is a dolly or some sort of rig that allowed him to get the shot he got. An early hint that this man really knew what he was doing. Awesome.
4.) Funny. There’s a reference to Aldo Raine in part 3 at the 5:00 minute mark.
5.) What was the whole subplot with the African-American? Big question mark.
6.) Part 3 has a great what seems like a 360-degree pan of a bedroom and the posters on the walls glancing over the woman on the bed and ending on Tarantino at the 9:08 mark.
7.) The commenters say a lot of this script was recycled or re-purposed for True Romance. Would have to watch the two together to say with any certainty.
8.) A strong use of music is present in this film.
Give your thoughts. Would be interested to know what you all think.
Be careful, there is quite a bit of objectionable material herein. You have been forewarned.
Dear Mr. James Cameron,
I see through various and varied internet outlets that you have a new movie coming out in 2009. Some small movie named Avatar? That news is cause for rejoicing, no doubt, but the only thing I can seem to think about whenever I hear or read that news is: WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?!
What is it?
A sequel to the 2006 hit, Inside Man. Production is tentatively scheduled to begin next year.
Screenwriter Russell Gewirtz, Director Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jodie Foster.
Willem Dafoe and Christopher Plummer’s characters from the original film are absent.
What’s it about?
Spurned on by a recent story in which Mark Millar went on record as saying that Superman Returns marked a 200 million dollar loss for Warner Brothers (an egregious bit of self-serving, unnecessary gossip), I’ve decided to make my first post for Gone Elsewhere.
Thanks to the gracious invite from James, and because everyone else on the site has most every other possible topic covered, I thought I would do a series of posts studying the financial intricacies of a business in which even the people involved in the financial side of the business don’t have any idea what’s going on. (Then how can I know anything? A fact that kind of makes this all a bit…self-serving? Damn.)
Many people, in many different ways, make a lot of money in the movie business… this isn’t about that.
This will attempt to explore 1) how a movie that purportedly has a 200 million loss will eventually recoup however much money has been spent to produce it and 2) why the majors want it that way.
Earlier in the week, Sienna Miller quietly announced (scooping the trades) that she’d be cast opposite Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s Notthingham. Now the uber-sketchy Daily Mail reports that Crowe’s 3:10 to Yuma co-star, Christian Bale, has been offered the role of Robin Hood in the mega-budget picture.
They also report that Vanessa Redgrave, William Hurt (who just joined the cast of FX’s excellent Damages) and Saoirse Ronan are in final negotiations to co-star.
The much-sought-after Indiana Jones and The City of the Gods screenplay written by Frank Darabont is now online (Google is your friend). Darabont’s screenplay was embraced by Spielberg and Harrison Ford (who were prepared film it) yet rejected by George Lucas in 2004.
I was working on a review, but since it’s appeared online in the past 24 hours…not sure if it’s worth it. Bottom line: much better than the shooting draft, but it has many, many problems.
Edit: Since Jeffrey Wells has remarked that Paramount is going to “come down hard” on anyone who links to the script (yet…he did) I’ve removed the link.
(photo of Public Enemies clapperboard)
Public Enemies, Michael Mann’s upcoming film about Chicago gangsters in the 1930s, began filming in Lincoln Park today. This involved restoring the Biograph Theatre, where John Dillinger (played by Johnny Depp in the movie) was killed, to its 1934 appearance. Here are a few photos that I took before the cops moved everyone off the sidewalk to start filming (click on the photos below to see the full size version):
Someone has posted the complete, spoiler-filled production notes for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull HERE.
While these notes will be making their way to most media outlets in the coming weeks, it looks like one of the film’s international distributors (specifically: Universal Pictures International Italy) may have jumped the gun.
Not a surprise, but the other shoe has dropped following New Line’s performance over the past few years:
TIME WARNER CONSOLIDATES FILMED ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESSES
New Line Cinema To Be A Unit Of Warner Bros. Entertainment
NEW YORK, February 28, 2008 – Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) announced today the consolidation of its filmed entertainment businesses, Warner Bros. Entertainment and New Line Cinema. The combination brings together New Line’s 40-year legacy as the world’s most successful and innovative independent film studio with Warner Bros.’ creative leadership and unparalleled scale and reach in global distribution and marketing.
(MORE AFTER THE JUMP)