Godard 21's Cinephile journal

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Random news about the Sundance film festival and the Indenpendent film spirit awards among other things

Random film news of the last few weeks.

First, after the poor box office showing of Clint Eastwood's Flags of our Fathers, Warner Brothers studios have decided to move up the United States release of Letters from Iowa Jima to December (it was previously scheduled to be released solely in February). This release date change is probably the result of the mixed reception which Flags received and its now limited Oscar potential. Given that Letters from Iowa Jima is supposedly the better film according to a few anonymous sources, it may have a better chance of receiving Oscar nominations and, as a result, it was moved up to a 2006 release.

In addition, the word is still out on whether Peter Jackson will direct The Hobbit film. Because of his dispute with New Line over the profits from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, New Line Cinema refuses to give him the job. However, distributor MGM has vowed to do all it can to make Jackson direct the fantasy adaptation. So, New Line Cinema does not want him to do it while MGM does. Most likely, this deadlock will continue for a while.

On a side note, the independent film spirit awards were announced a few days ago.Among the nominees for best picture are Half Nelson(good film, with an interesting score by Broken Social Scene), Little Miss Sunshine (which my friend hated, but I liked), and Pan's Labyrinth (which surprisingly has a low enough budget to be considered an independent film). Robert Altman received a nomination for Best director for Prairie Home Companion (which makes me happy) and David Lynch received a special distinction for Inland Empire.

Here is a link to the nominees for this year's awared which are stated to air on February 24 (before the Academy awards, I think).


Furthermore, the lineup for the 2007 Sundance film festival has also been announced.Here is a PDF file of the films in competition.


On a lighter note, here is a link to a recounting of Uwe Boll's bizarre boxing matches against his critics. Uwe Boll is often known as the worst director in the world today and recently he challenged his critics to several boxing matches in order to somehow prove them wrong about his films (I know, I don't see the connection neither). In the end, he trounced all his critics (which is sad because I was hoping that, at least one critic would clock him for his cinematic sins).


Will update soon.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Trailers of David Fincher's Zodiac, Yimou Zhang's Curse of the Golden Flower, and William Faulkner's vampire screenplay(???)

Here is a trailer of Zodiac, the new film of David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club), which is obviously based (loosely) on the serial killings of the Zodiac killer. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, Chloe Sevigny (now an indie "it" girl), among others. The trailer seems a little poorly constructed, although it does seem to be an odd take on a serial killer movie which defies the expectations one has of such a film (which could be a good thing). I hope the film turns out well, but I have strange forebodings that it may not (let's hope they are wrong).

Well, here is the trailer.


On another note, here is the trailer for Yimou Zhang's newest film, The Curse of the Golden Flower. This film is now China's entry for the Best Foreign film Academy award. Yimou Zhang is the director of other great films like Raise the Red Lantern (I love this film), Ju Dou, Hero (yes, this is a "good" film) among others. The film features the great actress Gong Li (one of my favourite actresses) as well as Chow Yun-Fat. Although the film seems to be another typical wu xia epic (a la Hero or Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon), I have heard that it is somewhat different in content and could potentially offer something new. I am still interested in seeing it, although I am still waiting to see Zhang's return to drama, Riding Alone for a Thousand Miles and I prefer his past, slow-moving dramatic films (Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lanter) to his new string of martial arts epics.

Anyway, here is a link to the webpage containing the new trailer of the film (it is excessively colourful,but I will see it for the set and costume design alone).

The Curse of the Golden Flower Trailer

On a side note, I have heard the strangest news story today. It involves an unearthed William Faulkner screenplay featuring.....(wait for it)...vampires. If it sounds absurd, it is because it is (it's the strangest story I have heard all year). On another note, a film adaptation of "The Sound and the Fury" is in the making (I'm interested, but I wonder if it is possible or what the end result will be. I have my doubts). However, apparently, this vampire screenplay will be brought to film (although there may have been a legitimate reason why Faulkner left it to rot and it may the byproduct of the Hollywood system he hated so much).

Here is a link to one version of the news story.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pan's Labyrinth review and new trailer

After much procrastination, here is my Pan's Labyrinth review:

Set in the years following the Spanish Civil war, Pan's Labyrinth, the new Mexican fantasy film of Guillermo Del Toro (The Devil's Backbone, Hellboy)explores a child's entry into a fantastic realm as a means to escape the turbulent times in fascist Spain. This film is Mexico's entry for the Best Foreign film Academy Award. Amidst sporadic outbursts of guerilla warfare from the remaining rebels, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero)and her pregnant mother, Carmen,(Ariadna Gil)arrive at a military outpost under the command of the monstrous and overtly patriarchal Captain Vidal (Sergi López), Ofelia's new stepfather, where Ofelia meets the friendly Mercedes (Maribel Verdú), one of Vidal's female servants. In this secluded location in the woods, Ofelia wanders off from the stringent authority of the adult and meets a magical faun named Pan, played by Doug Jones, under much makeup and costume work, who promises her entry into a magical kingdom if she can fulfill three tests.

While the film initially appears to conform to certain cinematic formulas,the film gradually moves away from them and becomes a darker fantasy tale than viewers are accustomed to. Captain Vidal, the true monster of the film initially appears like a villainous caricature, but he is developed enough throughout the course of the film to dispel this image. However, even if he is close to becoming a formulaic villain, most fantasy films are built upon such bipolar foundations and thus such a villain is to be expected. In addition, Sergi Lopez, who plays him, embraces the character's villainy and suits the role perfectly while adequately conveying his obsessive desire to perpetuate a patriarchal lineage as well as his cold, mechanical, and heartless demeanor which is fueled by the orderly nature of fascism and authoritarianism (which is in direct opposition to the imaginative faculty of Ofelia).

As Ofelia,a highly imaginative child (somewhat akin to Lewis Carroll's Alice, but not quite), Ivana Baquero is able to adequately convey both the initial innocence and the later strength of her character as well as her isolation in the corrupt adult world emerging out of fascism. Similarly,both Maribel Verdú, who plays Mercedes, and Ariadna Gil, as Carmen, deliver respectable performances alongside Baquero and Lopez.

Aside from the film's performances, the film's visuals also do not disappoint and Del Toro makes conservative use of CGI as opposed to the computer animated excess of other fantasy films like the films from the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series (Let's not forget the Chronicles of Narnia). The costume work behind Pan and the flesh-eating creature known as Pale Face is flawless.

Although the film may not meet the high expectations formed after the 15-20 minute standing ovations received at the Venice and Toronto film festivals, it remains one of the most interesting fantasy films of the last five years (or more). More importantly, unlike most fantasy films, Pan's Labyrinth is an original fantasy tale which is not adapted from any other literary source and, for some reason, this fact only contributes to make the film a welcomed alternative to the rehashed storylines of most recent fantasy epics (and films in general).

Well, that is my review. I will update later this week.

New Trailer

Here is a trailer for the upcoming biopic of the famous children's author Beatrix Potter, Miss Potter, starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor.

Miss Potter

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

New Film trailers for this week

Due to the chaos that is university life, I have failed to update this blog as frequently as I wished. In order to compensate, here are a few trailers soon to be followed by a review of Pan's Labyrinth (a Mexican fantasy tale for adults).

First, here is a trailer for the Clint Eastwood's companion film to Flags of out Fathers which also covers the battle of Iwo Jima,only this time from the side of the defeated Japanese Imperial army. The film is entitled Letters from Iowa Jima (formerly named Red Sun, Black Sand)and will most likely only be released next spring. In contrast to my dwindling interest in Flags of our Fathers, I am considerably more interested in this film (especially because it features Ken Watanabe, who is just excellent in everything). Anyway, here is a link to the trailer.

Letters from Iwo Jima trailer

Another recently released trailer is for the film The Number 23, which is directed by the horrible director Joel Schumacher (Phone Booth, Phantom of the Opera)who brought use the abysmal Batman and Robin (although Arnold Schwarzenegger saying "Freeze in Hell, Batman" remains priceless). Yet, because one of my friends likes his Phantom of the Opera and will most likely kill me if I mock it, I will be lenient on Schumacher's other films (including that one).

However, in all due honesty, this film's trailer is unintentionally hilarious and does not appear to end the never-ending downward spiral which is Schumacher's career (hopefully, we will soon be rid of him). The film is a dramatic thriller starring Jim Carrey as the protagonist which is usually enough to cast serious doubts as to film's artistic merit or quality (despite his respectable performances in films like Eternal Sunshine, Man on the Moon, or the Truman Show).

The Number 23 trailer

Here is the newly released trailer for Spiderman 3 by director Sam Raimi. Although, I am not much of a fan of the Spiderman films. Here it is nonetheless for those interested.

Spiderman 3 trailer

In addition, here is a trailer for a film entitled "Breach" starring Ryan Philippe, Laura Linney, and Chris Cooper. Based on a true story, the film revolves around the recent entry of Eric O'Neil in to the FBI and his conflicted relationship with his boss Robert Hanssen, who would later be convicted of selling state secrets to the Soviet Union (Due to its anti-communist leanings, my quasi-marxist friend will most likely avoid this film entirely). Anyway, here is the trailer.

Breach trailer

Now, finally, here is the recently released trailer of The Simpsons movie (if you haven't heard about it).

The Simpsons trailer

Pan's Labyrinth review soon (this weekend most likely).