Sep 20, 2014

Gasland Part II (2013)

In this sequel to Josh Fox's Gasland from 2010, the United States' relationship with "fracking" is updated. It's pretty clear that there is a lot of mudslinging going on from both sides of this issue which is pretty evident if you read up on responses to Gasland Part II. Natural gas development is all the same an important issue to talk about and I'm glad that there are individuals like Josh Fox who are willing to put themselves out there.

Josh Fox does all the same have a habit of being a documentary maker similar to Michael Moore just from Gasland. Mr. Moore can be good but only really in measured quantities. I personally like my documentaries to be more on the objective side but Michael Moore seems to throw that kind of idea out the window and only present his side with lots of screaming and shouting. Fox is more controlled in his approach which is a relief.

Sep 19, 2014

The Last Broadcast (1998)

I have to admit, I really like found footage films. I guess it's a bit of a guilty pleasure. If done correctly, they can feel totally genuine and just as scary as traditionally filmed horror movies. They seem to be a pretty divisive subgenre of horror but that's just how it is. They've probably passed the played out stage like slashers did during the 80's but that's what makes finding some obscure, older found footage film so enticing to me.

The Last Broadcast came out a year before The Blair Witch Project and resembles it in certain ways. It's the work of two men who co-directed and co-wrote the movie. Also, it's about a group of men who go into the woods to find the Jersey Devil in the Pine Barrrens and film the whole thing on camera. It's done a little differently though, more in the form of a documentary with narration courtesy of David Beard. Interestingly enough, it's believed to be the first movie shot entirely with regular consumer video equipment.

Sep 18, 2014

Boys Don't Cry (1999)

Before watching Boys Don't Cry, I did not know that it was based on a true story. Literally no idea. I took a quick look at the IMDb entry before watching it but didn't see the biography genre attached to it. So when the ending credits started rolling and the disclaimer about what happened to the characters' real life counterparts was shown, it was a pretty big shock. Understandably there was a lot of hoopla surrounding the case of Brandon Teena which dates back to 1993. There's no doubt that there was a story to tell there.

Director Kimberly Peirce apparently became interested in Brandon Teena during her college days and worked on a script for around five years. She actually made a short of the story in 1995 as her thesis but sadly I can't find it anywhere. For a story about a transgender main character, you can imagine the difficulty in finding a good actress for the role. Peirce wanted to avoid any known actresses and anyway, known actresses wouldn't want anything to do with such a controversial role. She went looking for suitable actresses in the LGBT community which was unsuccessful. After one hundred actresses were rejected, Peirce just happened to receive a tape from an unknown Hilary Swank. The rest is history

Sep 17, 2014

Kari-gurashi no Arietti [The Secret World of Arrietty] (2010)

Aside from a TV series from 1992, this is the third adaptation of Mary Norton's novel The Borrowers. I've seen the other two adaptations with varying results. The 1997 version is a little bit of a childhood nostalgia trip for me and John Goodman is irresistible fun in that one. I can see its shortcomings though. On the other hand, you got the 1973 version which is a great example of a movie aging horribly. These two movies stacked up against an animated Studio Ghibli? Let's just say that I don't fancy their position.

The Borrowers to me sounds like a wonderful project for Studio Ghibli. It's only the fourth movie from the heralded animation house not to be directed by either Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata so that's a pretty big deal. Hiromasa Yonebayashi got the honours and he was directing for the first time ever in fact. He was probably shaking in his boots with such big shoes to fill, not to mention with Miyazaki himself looking over his shoulder as an executive producer. With the big box office take worldwide as well as tons of critical adoration, it looks like Yonebayashi can rest easy.

Sep 16, 2014

Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

I was seventeen when Bridge to Terabithia came out and that's kind of on the too old side in terms of the movie's target audience. I don't even remember any advertising for it back then but I think that's because I was starting to phase out my TV watching. Disney is clearly targeting children with this movie and the fact that the main characters are in the fifth grade is a pretty big indicator of that. This was also the case in the Katherine Paterson novel of the same name that the movie is based on.

I've read that Bridge to Terabithia is very faithful adaptation of Paterson's book which I'm happy to hear. Sadly I've never read it but it sounds like it would be a good book all the same. The things that the characters do which involves using their imagination and creating their own worlds reminds me of myself. The one thing I hoped that first-time live-action film director Gabor Csupo would avoid is the overuse of CGI when it came time to showing the made up world of Terabithia.

Sep 15, 2014

The Lady Vanishes (2013)

Here we are are with another take on Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1938 film, The Lady Vanishes. The Anthony Page directed The Lady Vanishes from 1979 was pretty much a failure in every regard compared to the original. Although it's still sort of watchable, the humour and the suspense fall decisively flat. Is this BBC co-produced TV movie doomed to the same fate?

This version of The Lady Vanishes is more focused on closely adapting the novel that the story is based on by Ethel Lina White called The Wheel Spins. That's probably the best direction to go in for sure. There's no point in trying to match Hitchcock's production punch for punch. Although I can't verify if the movie follows the book closely, humour as been stripped away and the overall atmosphere of the movie is forbiddingly murky.

Sep 14, 2014

The Lady Vanishes (1979)

Remakes are always a risky proposition. Add in the fact that The Lady Vanishes is a remake of the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name and you've got a recipe for potential disaster. Tony Williams of Rank Organization which was one of the production companies defended the idea of remaking The Lady Vanishes because movies had changed a lot since 1938. The pacing had changed, the acting had changed and people cared about actors of the day. That all may be true, but it doesn't change the fact that Hitchcock's version had aged extremely well. Unless you bring something new and interesting into the equation, it's just going to be a wasted opportunity.

The suspense in the 1938 The Lady Vanishes was palpable and I still find it mind blowing that the comedy Hitchcock was able to squeeze in worked and is still funny to this day. I just really wouldn't associate comedy going well with suspense or mystery. You of course have the famous Charters and Caldicott characters who are a good source of laughs but even Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave display good chemistry and are able to provide some good comedy. It's pretty clear that this newer version of TLV has a lot to live up to.

Sep 13, 2014

Lansky (1999)

An HBO crime TV film based on true events with acclaimed actor Richard Dreyfuss playing the starring role? Naturally that already sounds like a pretty promising affair. HBO put out Lansky in February of 1999. You know what came out in January of 1999, less than a month before? The Sopranos. With director John McNaughton who's directed one of the most controversial movies of all time when it came to the MPAA and the BBFC in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Lansky has the potential to be something. This is also HBO, where swearing and violence are pretty much given free reign.

Richard Dreyfuss plays Meyer Lansky, a man who was nicknamed the "Mob's Accountant." He was a Jew who immigrated from Poland and had a hand in the Jewish Mob and the Italian Mob. The dude was an important piece in setting up organized crime across the United States. That's how much power he had and there's no doubt that there's a movie to be made about him from his story.

Sep 12, 2014

The Bling Ring (2013)

The Bling Ring is film based on the real life criminal exploits of a group of California teens who were able to break into a bunch of celebrity homes and steal items like clothes, jewelry and cash all totaling up to $3 million in value. Apparently this happened over the course of practically a year from October 2008 to August 2009. Paris Hilton, Audrina Patridge, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr who was dating Bloom at the time, Brian Austin Green, Megan Fox who was dating Green at the time and Lindsay Lohan were the reported victims.

Directed by Sofia Coppola, it definitely sounds like an interesting project. This is my first Sofia C. movie embarrassingly enough. I should've seen Lost in Translation a long time ago, I know. Every time I write a review, it always seems like I got some big confession to make which is starting to get to me. Hope it ends soon because before I know it my film buff status is just going to continue to whittle away.

Sep 11, 2014

Licence to Kill (1989)

Licence to Kill is the end of an era for James Bond films in quite a few ways. First of all, it's sadly the final appearance of Timothy Dalton as 007 and I can't help but feel ripped off. Dalton represents an interesting shift in the character towards a more angry kind of Bond which had never been done before. Along with The Living Daylights, there's also more of a focus on keeping things grounded and realistic. To an extent anyway because this is Bond we're talking about here. This is also the fifth and final James Bond film to be directed by John Glen. Robert Brown, Caroline Bliss, Maurice Binder (who had been a long time creator of the famed Bond opening titles) and writer Richard Maibaum also are involved for the final time with Licence to Kill.

Richard Maibaum's death in 1991 became a huge problem because it opened the door to a bunch of lawsuits and struggles over who would own the rights to James Bond movies. That's why there's a six year delay between Licence to Kill and GoldenEye. Albert R. Broccoli also relinquished his position as producer due to health reasons which further added to the confusion and delay. It was during this time that Timothy Dalton withdrew from the role and I can understand his decision. It didn't sound like a production you'd want to touch with a ten-foot pole.