Sundance Buzz: The Killer Inside Me

What Antichrist was to Cannes last year, The Killer Inside Me appears to be for Sundance 2010. Michael Winterbottom, not a stranger to controversy following his art/porn examination 9 Songs in the past, directs Casey Affleck in an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s novel about a sociopathic deputy sheriff and the people he leaves in his wake.

The reaction has been ripped in two between those fascinated by the questions and challenges it poses and those repulsed by everything it appears to be positing. It’s already provoked CHUD’s Devin Faraci to write a column about how the film has sparked a debate once more about depicting violence in movies. New York Magazine’s Vulture blog has described it as ‘Antichrist meets Precious meets No Country for Old Men’. Even the Daily Mail has got its teeth stuck in.

The scene causing the most consternation involves the brutal beating of Jessica Alba with her face reduced to pulp.

Jay A Fernandez at The Hollywood Reporter’s description goes thus:

In Michael Winterbottom’s “The Killer Inside Me,” Jessica Alba is pulverized, fist to face, fist to face, fist to poor pretty face, by Casey Affleck for a good three minutes or so. Until her eyes are swollen shut and part of her face has been smashed away, exposing her jaw. What one character later describes as ‘hamburger,’ ‘stewed meat.’

Todd McCarthy at Variety says:

Winterbottom’s presentation of the violence is blunt, direct and vivid enough to inflict winces, if not actual pain, on the audience; some will no doubt look away.

Cinema Blend’s Katey Rich is less kind:

The film’s violence is what’s got everyone talking, and while it’s debatable whether the movie shares Lou’s own misogyny, the camera does take a certain delight in shocking us by showing repeated shots of Jessica Alba’s face being beaten to pulp. When men are killed in the film they’re shot cleanly or dispatched with offscreen, but the women suffer brutally– and you have to wonder if Lou is the only one enjoying it.

Reportedly, Alba herself left the screening half way through. Winterbottom himself has defended the violence, saying: “When you read the book, it’s incredibly shocking… But the violence is supposed to be horrible.”

But there have been some positive reactions. IFC’s Alison Willmore tweeted: “THE KILLER INSIDE ME: Oh, it’s completely off its rocker and I love it. Casey Affleck kills, kills and kills, noir style. And Texan style.”

Daemon Movies wrote:

All and all, The Killer Inside Me is a brilliant movie with strong and believable characters and a powerful story. It is certainly not a movie for everyone, especially if you tend to be squeamish around violence, however I would recommend that you see it if you want to see some fantastic acting and a brilliant story.

But the majority of the criticism appears to be expressing discomfort and a sense that the film is more provocative than successful. Fernandez muses:

Does the violence work in the context of a deeper exploration of a character’s psyche, or that of society as a whole? Or is it displayed in a vacuum without any redeeming context to provide meaning to a viewer other than an indictment of their being willing to sit through it in the first place?

McCarthy, too, is mostly lukewarm on the actual quality of the film:

…Winterbottom cogently unfurls the sordid narrative, although, at least at the screening caught, some of the dialogue was unintelligible, either due to some mumble or slurred dialogue and/or undue amplification. Still, when compared with the many films noir made during the period when the novel was written, this “Killer” lacks punch, dynamism and genuinely seedy atmosphere; at the same time, it falls short of the sort of the rich texture, moodiness and interconnectedness of production values that mark the best contemporary period crime films…

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Sundance Buzz: The Runaways

The vast majority of the buzz surrounding this movie is split across the fact that Kristen Stewart is in it and that she and Dakota Fanning kiss in the film. I’m not wholly sure what the buzz is around the latter, but it should surely be more controversy that salaciousness given that Fanning is only fifteen.

Cinematical’s Kevin Kelly dug the movie, with a pretty significant amount of praise in his review devoted to the performances by Stewart, Fanning and Michael Shannon as Kim Fowley. He describes the performances from all three as “powerful“, but asserts that Shannon “takes this movie, straps it to his back, and walks away with it completely“. On the two female leads:

Kristen Stewart steps out of her normal angsty girl act and nails down the punk rock, hard as nails Jett, and Fanning is equally as good with her disconnected portrayal of Currie, who is dealing with the fact that she’s abandoning her alcoholic father and her twin sister Marie (played as fraternal in the movie, although they were identical in real life) to embrace a life of rock and roll.

Sam Adams for IFC was less taken by the movie itself, but is also praising of the Stewart and Fanning performances:

As much as for its characters, “The Runaways” is a rite of passage for its stars: Fanning, attempting to move beyond her preternaturally placid juvenile roles, and Kristen Stewart, whose volcanic Joan Jett runs hotter than the brooding teens she’s played in, well, everything.

Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir was again entertained, but felt that more was promised somewhere along the line: “[Director Floria] Sigismondi has made a straightforward rock ‘n’ roll biopic that’s fluid and exciting to watch, but clearly aspires to something more,” he says.

One dissenting voice comes from First Showing’s Alex Billington.

…I was completely unimpressed with Floria Sigismondi’s inability to handle the characters, the story, or the film at all. And despite having a good time watching concert scenes, I don’t have much else good to say about The Runaways. This was one of the first big let downs of Sundance for me and I was even looking forward to it.

So mostly love, especially for Fanning and Shannon, though Stewart also picks up quite a few plaudits. There seems a general agreement that it’s a little unfocused character-wise, but the performances do much to rectify these problems.

Sundance Buzz: Cyrus

The Duplass Brothers, Jay and Mark, shift out of the mumblecore movement and into studio-backed filmmaking with a pretty decent cast and a story of comedy potential. John C Reilly plays a guy just out of a break-up who hooks up with Marisa Tomei and then has to deal with her son, played by Jonah Hill, who remains living at home and enjoys something of an odd relationship with his mum.

Katey Rich, who is doing some great work in covering the festival for Cinema Blend, loved the film nearly unreservedly:

The Duplasses play brilliantly with the sense of comfort that comes in a romantic comedy, that secret assurance that we know how things will play out. Because the movie bears that mumblecore label of realism, there’s an actual suspense to this film’s particular will-they-or-won’t-they. By not changing the romantic comedy formula and instead bringing their own style to it, they create something wholly original, a skewed mirror on Hollywood that lovingly turns the old tropes around.

She adds that the film is “stellar and hilarious and by far one of the best things to come out of the festival so far“.

And Rich is far from alone in her praise for the film. HitFix’s Drew McWeeny was equally enchanted by the Duplass’ step up to the big(ger) leagues:

Shot with a simple, austere eye and elegantly constructed, Cyrus was a complete knockout, and Fox Searchlight will figure out how to sell this to the general public in a very big way. What’s great is that Mark and Jay Duplass seem to have proven that they can work for the studios in a way that makes them happy, that allows them to make their movies, and that will reward the faith of the studios with genuinely great commercial fare.

Add to those voices Scott at We Are Movie Geeks, who claims: “There isn’t much you can say that is negative about the film… its pretty much perfect.

The one major dissenter is Duane Byrge over at the Hollywood Reporter, who isn’t quite wholly scathing, but certainly didn’t find the same level of enjoyment.

A romance laced with psychological poison, “Cyrus” is a well-performed but superficial drama of emotional co-dependency that is unlikely to venture past the select-site/festival circuit.

Overall, “Cyrus” is more a clinical enactment than a complex human drama and ultimately just droops in predictability and easy outcomes.

So a potential breakthrough for the Duplass brothers, though it does sound as though it could struggle to find a major audience if they are so carefully integrating their mumblecore sensibilities with mainstream style.

Sundance Buzz: Howl

Having had its two stars, James Franco and Jon Hamm, compare the events surrounding Allen Ginsberg’s obscenity trial related to his poem of the same name of the film to the Proposition 8 battle in California, Howl arrives on the scene with a great deal of cache for the indie audience.

Neil Miller at Film School Rejects kicks off his review with what appears the central debate surrounding the film:

The interpretation of art is tricky. In fact, most great works of art are the trickiest because what makes them great is that they can mean different things to different people. This is something I’ve known, but was reinforced by Rob Epstein’s excellent film Howl, which is a commentary on interpretation set against the obscenity trial that catapulted Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem into the national spotlight. This is also something I realized in the peer conversations that followed my viewing of the film — if taken one way, Howl is a great film. If interpreted another, it loses all of its impact.

He goes on to argue that the film can be read either as an interpretation of the art itself or a meditation on interpretations of art. He also expresses great admiration for James Franco’s central performance, something echoed by MTV. Though this wasn’t something completely shared by Cinematical’s Kevin Kelly, who said that Franco “does a decent job in the role when he’s imitating Ginsberg via recordings, but veers off-track in fictionalized moments”.

Kelly also struggles to find as much enthusiasm as that expressed by Miller, arguing:

Interviews discussing the impact of HOWL, photos, recordings (a vintage recording of Ginsberg reading HOWL aloud was actually discovered in 2007), and more of a background would have been more interesting to watch than this unfortunately clumsy approach to adapting one of the quintessential American poems to film.

It’s scepticism is echoed by indieWire’s Eric Kohn, though he is perhaps even less kind:

Although Howl technically didn’t provide Sundance with its opening night film—it was one of two competition films screened on opening night—it reeks of the stigma associated with the aforementioned slot: Poorly executed, socially relevant counterculture fetishization executed with a few familiar faces. Ginsberg says he reached ‘complete control’ with his composition of Howl, but the movie version apparently has none.

At the moment, Howl looks like it could face a rocky road which may have to be driven by the buzz which seems to surround Franco’s performance. He’s getting praise, but the film itself is getting something of a muted response, with many noting that the two directors had originally envisioned the film as a documentary and have possibly become a little confused in their aims.

BAFTA Thoughts…

Though I could gripe immediately with a bunch of the nominations given, I’m going to give the first part only of this over to the minor grips I have with the BAFTA nominations, announced this morning (and here in full via Empire Magazine).

The leading nominees, each with eight, are Avatar, The Hurt Locker and An Education. The overrating of An Education, at the expense of better British films like In the Loop and Fish Tank, is a little irritating, but the acting is so strong in the film that it seems to have elevated everything around it, including the nominated script by Nick Hornby and the nominated directing by Lone Scherfig. Avatar’s eight is mostly taken up with technical nods, which is entirely fair, but its picture nod, over Inglourious Basterds and Up, is predictable but wrong. Obviously, for those who read or listen to anything I say or write, know that I wholly agree with all The Hurt Locker nods, with my only desire to see much more attention given to Anthony Mackie in the supporting categories.

As with the Golden Globes, I can’t possibly pass this opportunity up to criticise the nomination of The Hangover for script, specifically given it is just a slightly adjusted take on Dude, Where’s My Car?. On personal taste, I probably wouldn’t have sought to reward the script for An Education, but kudos for adding District 9 which, despite a host of action movie tropes peppered throughout, is a much smarter film that the credit given would suggest.

The acting sections are all pretty good. That said, I wouldn’t have given Alec Baldwin a nod for It’s Complicated due to Anthony Mackie’s great performance in The Hurt Locker, but Baldwin is good so not too much annoyance there. Also very good indeed to see Christian McKay nominated for his amazing performance in Me and Orson Welles. Also great nod for Anne-Marie Duff for supporting actress in Nowhere Boy. This seems like the only place where Mo’Nique just might not win for Precious, so Duff and the others could nick it.

It’s a decent enough selection from BAFTA. They are slightly over-praising, as most have, An Education and, as most haven’t, Coco Before Chanel. The nomination of Audrey Tautou over the incredible debut by Katie Jarvis is jarring, but sometimes you have to give concession to BAFTA’s predeliction for costume drama, no matter the costume. But nothing but praise should be given to the nods for The Hurt Locker and District 9, though you might wish that some of the better British films, notably Moon and In the Loop, were given a little more attention outside of nods in those Brit-focused categories.

Cheap at Half the Price: Chris’ Legit Guide to Free Movies

Lets be honest, everything is better when it’s free – free food, free drink, free Tibet and now free cinema tickets. A number of Hollywood companies have now seen the importance of word of mouth as a marketing strategy. They give away free tickets to advanced screenings of some of their film and reap the rewards of people recommending the films (obviously if the film is any good). Obviously, if you have paid nothing for a ticket, you are going to hate a poor film a lot less because you don’t feel that you have been cheated out of your hard-earned cash and you will enjoy a good film a lot more for the same reason.

With this is mind, I thought I would give a small list of the major ways to get to see films for free. This is by no means a comprehensive list, more of a personal preference list by myself where I have actually got free tickets, so I know they are legitimate. With all the free cinema tickets, you will need to take a copy of the ticket, a form of ID and get there a bit earlier than normal as it is not rare for all the allocation to be taken and so you could be left with seats right at the front if you are there half an hour before. Enjoy…

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Sam’s Most Anticipated Films of 2010

Not ranked, but just sixteen movies I picked out for my enthusiasm to be aimed at this year. Just a note the following have been excluded for a variety of reasons: Kick Ass/Shutter Island (both coming out pretty soon), The Tree of Life (was on last year’s list and may still not come out this year), Inception/Toy Story 3 (too big to need my advocacy) and Scott Pilgrim vs The World (purely because Tommy was always going to choose it). Also, remember to check out Chris’ list here.

So, here are the sixteen I’ve chosen, in alphabetical order, after the jump:

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Golden Globes Thoughts…

It would seem to me that the awards season should be used to reward the best films, the best performances in terms of the measurable quality of the product put out rather than the popularity of the nominees. The Golden Globes, as if edging, as my podcast colleague Tommy suggested today, towards becoming a glorified version of the MTV Movie Awards, has this year chosen to nearly-exclusively reward the popular choices.

I have no real problem with James Cameron getting best director; Avatar is an incredible achievement from a technical standpoint. But to reward that film, a confused hodgepodge of political allegory, predictable plot and stock characters, the prize for the best picture seems ridiculous. It is a huge milestone for technical filmmaking, but when put into 2D and playing on television screens across the land after its DVD release, the massive problems with the story and characters will become increasingly clear. To suggest other winners could easily be written off as me just griping that my favourite films didn’t win, but I don’t think many could deny that the success of the vision of The Hurt Locker or Inglourious Basterds far, far surpasses that of Avatar as a piece of storytelling.

Outside of that, witness the prize handed to Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side, a mawkish TV movie-style sleeper hit, beating the nuanced skill of Carey Mulligan in An Education. Witness The Hangover, winner of Best Musical/Comedy, rewarded for managing to convince an entire audience that it was funny despite having only one good performance and then three douchebags, one terrible cameo and one borderline-racist gangster. It was a weak category, but at least (500) Days of Summer spoke to a sense of truth and actually could fit into being both comedy and musical.

There should be some sense of duty for awards that, rather than pander to bringing in the largest possible audience for the truly pointless televising of the ceremony, they should seek to reward those filmmakers that have made films which, even if they failed to connect with audiences, have something to say beyond ‘see how fucking cool this looks!’

Chris’ Most Anticipated Films of 2010

The Movie Overdose’s newest, and essentially lone writer Chris Inman outlines his most anticipated movies of the coming year. Listen to Sam, Tom and John’s choices on Episode Number 48.

The Rum Diary

Why the buzz? : Johnny Depp has been a little disappointing of late, starring in major films where he seems to play a caricature of himself, so a return to a more intimate character-driven role will hopefully see a return to form. His performance in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas shows that he is able to ply his trade in supposed ‘unfilmable’ Hunter S Thompson adaptations. Giovanni Ribisi and Aaron Eckhart also star in this story of a freelance journalist writing for a paper in the Caribbean who develops a fixation for rum and a businessman’s fiancée.

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Box-Office Depression

Reading the most recent issue of Time, there was a brief note during its Oscar predictions on the comparable box-office totals for The Hurt Locker and Avatar.

The first, an essentially apolitical Iraq war movie which explores the psyche of those addicted to conflict, made a total of $12m at the US box-office. That’s a total of $12m over its entire run in the US.

The second, James Cameron’s uber-blockbuster and undoubtedly a treatise on either environmentalism or, pertinently, the imperialist ambitions of the US in the Middle East, has made that per day. Yes, it’s total box-office in the US so far is around $400m, meaning an average of $12m per day.

Far more than The Hurt Locker, which is set in Iraq, Avatar is about Iraq, about American powers wading into worlds without fully understanding or empathising with their own customs.

So, two points. First, any suggestion that movies about Iraq cannot work isn’t quite true, they just have to be 3D and wrapped in Pantheistic theory. Second, isn’t it slightly depressing that a film which seeks so desperately to understand something about the human condition is trounced so heartily by a bloated, arrogant but visually impressive film. An on-mass example of someone fleeing towards the shiny goods instead of the quality produce.

It would seem that, given that the two are emerging as the key contenders for the Oscars this year, that the Academy has an opportunity either to reward hollow commercialism with a mixed message, or vital independent filmmaking in which the ‘message’ is eschewed in favour of probing the mind of those at the heart of our generation’s conflict.

Understanding Characters

I watched James Gray’s Two Lovers last night, his polarising relationship drama starring Joaquin Phoenix which, inevitably, was unfairly caught in the storm of madness which surrounded his breakdown and (hopefully) botched rap career launch.

Gray’s films are a strange experience. The man appears to have very little sense of irony on the surface of his work, creating worlds which seems to be deadly serious and yet tinged with a sense that a knowing hand is at work. Two Lovers is, for the most part, an extremely uncomfortable experience, in which we are given Phoenix’s Leonard, a bi-polar, semi-suicidal sometime photographer, who falls in love in two completely different ways with two entirely separate potential mates. The first, Sandra (who is played incredibly well by Vinessa Shaw), is the daughter of one of Leonard’s father’s business acquaintances and friends with whom his father is presently seeking to broker a merger of their respective dry cleaning businesses. She makes her attraction to him known during their first exchange alone, giving Leonard the knowledge that this option has become open to him, something he later takes advantage of on two separate occasions.

The other is Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow) who is the antithesis of Sandra. She is a fuck-up, a former addict conducting an affair with a middle-aged married man in a city law firm, who moves into Leonard’s building and subsequently his life. There is even a sense that I got that her coming into his world wasn’t entirely by accident on her part. She becomes an infatuation for Leonard, someone for him to look after and play the man for, to take her to hospital appointments and give approval on her lover, all the while harbouring notions of a romantic relationship with her.

The triumph of the film is in making the audience understand these relationships, if only from a distance. I could never place myself within the role of Leonard and understand, despite the heroic ideals she drives in him, why he would persist in going after Michelle. But that would be a view from my perspective. Extracting myself from the story and just watching the characters, richly drawn as they are by Gray, I could wholly empathise with the path that Leonard chooses to take in pursuing something with Sandra.

For Leonard, she represents an opportunity to escape an existence of being looked after. His mother near-coddles him when he is at home. His father allows him unlimited leeway whilst working in their dry cleaners. Even in his burgeoning relationship with Sandra, he becomes the one being looked after, a sense beautifully communicated by a scene in which she purchases him a pair of gloves. Leonard sees in Michelle an opportunity to escape this way of living, to take on the task of being the one doing the looking after.

Yet we understand that this relationship is doomed. Despite understanding Leonard’s attraction to Michelle, Gray leads us constantly into knowing that she will break his heart by the denouement of their relationship. Indeed she does, and the moment forces Leonard into understanding his place in life, that he needs to have someone to look after him. The final few scenes, in which this emotional transition occurs and concludes with Leonard using the ring he bought for Michelle to propose to Sandra, is the moment in which Gray’s film shifts from anthropological study of human love to a truly personally empathetic experience.

The film is imperfect, primarily because the detachment which makes it so admirable does not translate into having a truly emotional experience. But there can be no denying that Gray, for all his lack of subtlety in writing relationships, completely understands the inner motivations and desires of his characters.

Chris’ Favourite Year of the Decade: 2006

So, which year in the last decade was the best for film? For me, the shortlist dropped down to two years immediately, 2000 and 2006.

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Other Oscar Nomination Predictions

I did predict a few little while ago, but much has changed in the interim and I feel it necessary to update my prediction season for the nominees, something I will do again in early February just before the nominations are announced.

The primary change is the fall of Nine, previously considered a shoe-in for most categories, which looks likely to win absolutely nothing outside of a possible couple of technicals. Add to that the rising popularity of Inglourious Basterds and the seemingly-unstoppable attention being given to The Hurt Locker, plus the apparently disastrous The Lovely Bones, and some things have to change.

Below then are my predictions for the top few categories, with some explanation as to why and, bold as it may be, my predictions for the likely winners in each category.

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Chris’ Twenty Films of the Decade

Our brand new writer, Chris Inman, has not only provided the world with his top five movies of 2009, he now furnishes you lucky people with his top twenty movies of the decade. A couple of controversial more recent choices are included and should be debated immediately, but otherwise it’s a bloody strong list that will definitely find one followers amongst the existing MOD clan who will thoroughly agree with the winner.

Onwards then, and look our for more articles to come from Chris in the very near future as he kicks off his tenure with us in earnest.

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Chris’ Top Five Movies of 2009

Give a big welcome to Chris Inman, our brand new writer on the site. Better known to many as Spanky Patterson, Chris is a long-time listener of the podcast and has now moved on to become the first writer (outside of Sam) to join the site.

As a way of introduction, to allow you all to get to know him a little bit, here’s his five favourite movies of 2009, in ascending order, with his favourites of the decade to come in the next few days.

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Sam’s Top 42 Films of the Decade

Just for the sake of my own sanity and desperate need to have these written somewhere, I give you my favourite forty-two films of the past decade. There are at least fifty-six other films I would like to put onto a list, but I think I need to forcefully prevent any more decade-based listmaking as quickly as possible. So beneath is the top ten list, along with a sentence or two on each film and then thirty-two, out-of-list-order, films which I had to include.

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Sam’s Top Ten of the Year

You can listen to us discussing these films at length on the podcast on the show, but please do check out the list below for perpetuity. Sam’s list is annotated and included below, Tom’s is not annotated and its right here. This just means you will have to check out the podcast to hear Tom’s viewpoints. So check out Sam’s choices after the jump, along with a few choice thoughts and honourable mentions. Enjoy!

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Tom’s Top Ten Movies of 2009

So here’s Tommy’s list of the top ten films of 2009. No annotations, so you’ll just have to listen to the podcast to hear his thoughts. For just the list, jump in. Continue reading →

Oscar Nominations Predictions: Part Deux

Time to have a little guess again at which films could be nominated for Oscars in a couple of months time, just entirely based on hype and vague attempts to understand the predictable nature of the Academy. So, for debate and conjecture’s stake, enjoy these predictions for the Oscar nominations in 2010, post jump. Continue reading →

A Serious Man: Not an Odd Film Out

Werner Herzog and Christian Bale on the set of Rescue Dawn

In a column for the Guardian over the weekend, Joe Queenan used A Serious Man to stand in example of movies by directors which stand apart from the rest of their filmography. In the case of A Serious Man, Queenan writes:

A Serious Man falls into that category of films that, for whatever reason, do not have the same texture or mood as a director’s other films. It may be a decision the film-maker has made deliberately, or it may be entirely inadvertent, but these films stand apart from the other movies in a director’s body of work. It is as if the film-maker abruptly decided to take a holiday from his own personality and make a film in somebody else’s style.

He goes on to cite other examples of this theory for great directors. He notes Werner Herzog for Rescue Dawn (“…a well-crafted action picture. And nothing more.“), Spike Lee’s Inside Man (“…certainly doesn’t have the feel of any other Spike Lee film. It is work for hire.“) and Ang Lee with The Hulk (“…one of those catastrophes so bad that its sequel seems like the industry’s personal apology to the movie-going public for what has gone before.“)

He also cites a few examples of better one-offs, such as Scorsese’s Age of Innocence, Eastwood’s The Bridges of Madison County and, inexplicably, Peter Weir’s Green Card.

I’ll leave what he considers good or bad to the side (seriously though, Green Card?) and just comment on the mistake of characterising so many of these films as being far apart from the other work by directors.

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The Problem with Paranormal Activity

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR PARANORMAL ACTIVITY FOLLOW

Welcomed as a returning hero this year by the horror genre, Paranormal Activity heralded the commercial arrival, or re-arrival, of the ‘found footage’ genre (we’ve already got James Marsh entering the fray). The Blair Witch Project, a film still entirely underrated, popularised the sub-genre in the late-90s, though without it ever fully becoming a horror movement in the way that so-called ‘torture porn’ has managed.

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Music in Movies #3 – Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown Poster

Like Cameron Crowe last week, Tarantino’s style is probably more an aural one than visual. He’s certainly not a man without the ability to make a good looking movie, but the only discernible style that seems intrinsically his, on a visual level, is the foot fetish. Otherwise, its the music and the dialogue.

Since the beginning of his career, Tarantino has made a name for himself through his musical choices. Sometimes, and his present choices seem to speak to this, he has a tendency to side further towards more obscure music, often making selections which appear more wilfully obscure than components in aiding the quality of the film. Death Proof, a film I disliked quite a bit, has one amazing moment with the use of ‘Hold Tight’ by Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, a complete classic used to perfection. Otherwise, like much of that film, everything felt tightly constructed to evoke a certain style and feeling which felt derivative of Tarantino himself.

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Music in Movies #2: Say Anything

Say Anything Poster

If there is one distinctive, auteurist-feature to the directorial work of Cameron Crowe, it’s surely aural rather than visual. He doesn’t necessarily have any visual style, though all of his films seem to have a misty nature to them, a kind of wistful dreaminess in their themes and in the way of their main characters. The only time this fails to happen is with Vanilla Sky, his remake of Alejandro Amenabar’s Abre los Ojos, though even here the soundtrack falls into line with his methods.

The single defining feature of a Cameron Crowe film is surely music. Crowe is interested in music of his characters, music of their time and music they would like. Some would place his squarely as a 60s-70s man, but this era-based categorisation is negated entirely by the first film I’m going to talk about in his column.

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The Movie Overdose #35 – Show Notes

Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire

Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire

So, much to note from this week’s episode. Remember to check us out on Twitter, Facebook, iTunes and email us with any questions. All the links and information for that are now on the left side of the page.

The News…

Trailers…

Paranormal ActivityCapitalism: A Love StoryThis is ItA Christmas CarolNew MoonGentlemen Broncos – Up in the Air (see below)

Notes & Corrections…

Oh dear, this is what happens when Sam has been ill… September Issue director RJ Cutler did not direct The War Room, he produced it for DA Pennebaker. The film also follows the first Clinton campaign, not the second.

The story about Steven Spielberg and his experience watching Paranormal Activity.

Wings of Desire is to be released on Criterion edition, in Blu-ray also, in November.

The Movie Overdose Presents: Mrs Doubtfire 2

mod presents

This week we try out for a direct continuation of the highly potent Mrs Doubtfire franchise. We present to you our valiant attempt at developing a darker new chapter in everyone’s favourite quasi-Scottish nanny’s life…

Tom: yeah sure

lets do it

Mrs Doubtfire 2?

John: alan moore style

behind the mask

so it’s definitely a direct continuation, right? same cast?

Tom: oh absolutely

it’s set maybe 5 years later

the kids can be recast

slightly older

and everything seems normal. Robin Williams is still doing the Mrs Doubtfire show

then one night he comes home to his wife and they’re in bed together. and he starts talking dirty in Mrs Doubtfire’s voice.

they both think it’s hilarious that he’s using an old woman’s voice while in bed. and laugh it off. but then robin williams goes to the bathroom, looks in the mirror and sees Mrs Doubtfire in the reflection

cue titles: Mrs Doubtfire 2: Burning Desire

John: because of the flaming fake breasts?

does that play a role in the next film?

Tom: that’s interesting. maybe in a freak accident on set, the breasts melt and get stuck to him

anyway. so basically robin williams has to deal with the fact that he can no longer control Mrs Doubtfire

also i seem to recall in the first that Mrs Doubtfire is always pining over her dead husband. i forget his name. We’ll call him Norman for the time being

John: ok

Tom: and Mrs Doubtfire wants Norman back, so she’s on the hunt for a replacement Norman

that kindly old bus driver in the first film gets assaulted

John: ah maybe it could be a case of lost time

like robin williams wakes up and doesn’t remember the last few hours

sort of like a transvestite version of Memento

Tom: yeah, but he looks down and he’s wearing frilly knickers

John: that’s right

as Doubtfire he’s trying to fill the void left by norman

Tom: it also becomes a bit like The Fly. because it gets to the point where he’s physically turning into an old lady

he also needs Sally Field out of the picture as she’s not old enough for him

him/her

John: so Brundlefire is gradually morphing over the course of the second act, we’ve set up the schism between him and sally field in the first act, where do we go from there?

Tom: we need a hero

someone to save robin williams

John: the gay couple from the start of the first film?

Tom: oh no. they’re brainwashed by Brundlefire to try and use their make-up skills to make Sally Field look like poor deceased Norman

John: ah yes, of course

shouldn’t take that much work though

Tom: ouch

of course once she looks like Norman, Brundlefire will have to kill her, as Norman is dead. he/she needs to make things perfect

you know i hope the transvestite community isnt appalled by this film.

John: i think a lot of people are going to be appalled by this film. i’m also not sure how i feel about brainwashing the gay couple

there are so many nasty layers to this film

Tom: it’s a nasty film

John: we’ve still not got a hero though

Tom: the cover of the film though will look like the cover of Mrs Doubtfire 1

the trailer too, will be cut to look like a romantic comedy

John: so we’re really going for a suckerpunch of a movie

i like this

Tom: viral marketing too. Robin Williams dressed up as Mrs Doubtfire will respond to random ads in actual newspapers looking for a nanny

John: i think i’d be pretty terrified if williams turned up at my house responding to an ad

John: can pierce brosnan save him?

Tom: oh god i forgot about pierce

of course

he’s the decoy hero though

John: so he dies?

Tom: like scatman crothers in The Shining

yeah. he comes to save the day, then Brundlefire shoves a pepper down his throat and his allergies kill him

John: can we have pierce get a call from williams right at the very start of the movie? so we keep cutting back to brosnan making his way across the globe

only to be peppered in the final reel

Tom: yeah of course

but we still need a hero

what other characters are there in the first one?

John: just looking through imdb, nothing is jumping out

we might need a new character

shouldn’t be too much of a stretch as we have all the important principle cast intact

John: joseph gordon levitt?

Tom: he’s a bit too good for this

John: paul walker

he’s going to be our muse

Tom: ok how about this

paul walker was raised by his grandma who died

and mrs doubtfire comes along and acts as a grandma figure

paul walker has no idea that it’s actually robin williams in disguise

he feels close with Doubtfire, not knowing what he/she is becoming

turns out that Paul Walker’s grandpa was the bus driver who mrs doubtfire murdered

and paul walker remembers his grandpa talking about an old lady with hair legs

and sees doubtfire shaving them and puts two and two together

John: this is such a tragic story

poor doubtfly

Tom: well with the help of paul walker, robin williams eventually destroys his alter ego

John: so does paul walker then ingratiate himself into the family?

Tom: if only it was that simple

this is where things get meta

robin williams weakened by mrs doubtfire isnt prepared for what happens next

John: now i’m terrified…

Tom: ALL of Robin Williams other alter egos staart to randomly surface as if he is malfunctioning

so Jack, Patch Adams, Bicentential Man, Jakob The Liar, Peter Pan etc…they all start surfacing randomly

like when the T-1000 at the end of Terminator 2 is malfunctioning

robin williams can no longer control his personality

John: ok i’m definitely in on this project

but don’t forget popeye

Tom: yeah

it’s kinda like a video game boss battle

with each personality, Paul Walker must find its weakness

John: i think we’ve got this wrapped up, what do you think? i’m confident about this one

Tom: sold

Link It!

Zooey Deschanel

John Malkovich has joined the cast of Randall Wallace’s Secretariat.

Darren Aronofsky is to make a film about the £53m Securitas van robbery which happened in Tonbridge in 2006.

Zooey Deschanel has married Ben Gibbard, the principal member of Death Cab for Cutie.

Columbia Pictures is to make a movie of the Enron story, just after the theatre show is to make its way to the West End.

FOX has ordered up a whole season of Glee.

Jon Hamm, Will Ferrell and Linda Cardellini are among those backing the cause of health insurance companies in the face of Obama reform policies.

Brad Pitt may play Moriarty in a second Sherlock Holmes.

Let the Oscar Buzz Begineth!!

Oscars-Predictions-1

As we are prone to do, it feels like to kick-off the Oscar buzz season as awards from major film festivals begin to roll in and the ceremony approaches. I realise that this may feel like the kind of wishing-life-away feeling that it given as you walk into shops in mid-September and see Christmas stock out all over the place, but these will get more frequent as we get closer and can begin to actually predict what could win. This is more to provide an interesting gauge of how buzz works, how it changes and how wrong we could well end up being by the time the awards come around.

So, just for the big few categories, here’s what seems like it’s going to cause a stir this year: Continue reading →

Link It

Magneto

Looks like George Clooney could end up directing the Hamdan vs Rumsfeld project, with Matt Damon starring.

Precious is beginning its Oscar buzz season with a win in Toronto.

Apparently Gavin Hood wouldn’t mind making a shitty Magneto movie too.

Jack Kirby’s estate has begun delivering copyright termination notices to a whole bunch folks, including Marvel and Disney, relating to characters the late creator was responsible for.

Five movies which make Film School Rejects hungry.

Declaration of Independence: The Ten Principles of Hybrid Distribution from Indiewire.

Johnny Depp is reportedly less interested in another Pirates movie without Dick Cook at the helm of Walt Disney Studios.

MTV has an exclusive excerpt from Kevin Smith’s SModcast book.

Henry Rollins voicing a Batman character? Fuck, yeah!!

Twitch has an interview with Guy Maddin at TIFF about Night Mayor.

Venice Golden Lion winner Lebanon has been purchased by Sony Pictures Classics.

District 9 has made it over to Nigeria.

Music in Movies: The Spotify Playlist

Reservoir Dogs

As an addendum to the show notes, which you will have read earlier, I thought I would put together a Spotify playlist of some of the songs which we focused on, and the films from which they come. The playlist is below and its linked to here and at the end of the playlist. More of these will follow as I continue the Music in Movies feature on the blog.

The songs are:

‘Gonna Fly Now’ by Bill Conti from Rocky
‘Little Green Bag’ by The George Baker Selection from Reservoir Dogs
‘Needle in the Hay’ by Elliott Smith from The Royal Tenenbaums
‘The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down’ by The Band from The Last Waltz (note: not the version from the live show)
‘The Wind’ by Cat Stevens from Almost Famous: Untitled Cut
‘It’s a Sin’ by Pet Shop Boys from Bronson
‘Across 110th Street’ by Bobbie Womack from Jackie Brown
‘Staralfur’ by Sigur Ros from The Life Aquatic
‘Battle Without Honour or Humanity’ by Tomoyasu Hotei from Kill Bill
‘Falling Slowly’ by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from Once
‘Pretty in Pink’ by The Psychedelic Furs from Pretty in Pink
‘Lust for Life’ by Iggy Pop from Trainspotting
‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen from Shaun of the Dead
‘The End’ by The Doors from Apocalypse Now

Download on Spotify

Disclaimers on all fronts, folks. This is by no means the end of the conversation. We will be running a weekly column on the site considering music in films, published every Monday. There is sooooo much more to talk about with music in films, we have failed to even scratch the surface of all that shall be talked about. Until then however enjoy the above.

MOD Summer Round-Up #2 (July to September)

Sunshine Cleaning Poster

So, in the wake of Transformers revenging the fallen all over our minds, we were in need of cooling down from the sheer anger and exhaustion felt in the studio. Though Sunshine Cleaning should have been a great example of an indie to bring us back onto home turf, it ended up an underwhelming experience. The eminently crushworthy pairing of Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, along with the solid Alan Arkin and roles for Steve Zahn and Clifton Collins Jr, just couldn’t quite drive us into anything beyond a tepid lack of satisfaction. Ideas involved were strong, but the execution was half-hearted, even if all of the above tried really hard to elevate the material. Continue reading →