Monday, 31 August 2009

When Good Directors Go Bad

It's so miserable when it happens. You follow a director for years as they throw out masterpieces... or... at least decent enough films, when suddenly you're shocked to IMDB some awful film you looked up for a laugh and find their name attached to it. It just doesn't bear thinking about. It's happened to me so many times, so here's a few I can think of, or that I've discovered through others and their experiences.

5. The Brothers Grimm (2005) Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam taking on the Grimm fairytales sounds to many like a match made in heaven. It certainly did to me, but unfortunately all that results from this project is a plot that's been twisted out of shape, with a poorly conceived idea and some seriously poor performances. The only upside is that hopefully the money lining Gilliam's pockets will now go towards something on a par with his usual work.

4. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) Stanley Kubrick

It was a shame that this film was his last, but many argue that the reason for the spectacular panning of this film was Tom Cruise's (lack of) acting. Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of 'Kubrick = overrated' monologues by people who use this film as a directorial example, much to the dismay of Kubrick fans. I was in two minds between this and Barry Lyndon, but decided on this because the unfortunate chronology of Kubrick's films means arguably this one did the most damage.

3. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009) Werner Herzog

This may be a little pre-emptive, but the trailer is here for you to judge my itchy trigger finger for yourself. Werner Herzog has taken on a film which IS (but apparently isn't) the remake of Abel Ferrara's much-debated classic, Bad Lieutenant. This (let's say 'adaptation' for now, for the sake of argument) features Nicolas Cage (touch of death for most films nowadays), snorting cocaine and chasing a rapper around. Very out of character for this well-respected director, even the suggestion that he's making a clumsy comedy with Nick Cage is more than enough grounds for a trip to the shrink.

2. Death Proof (2007) Quentin Tarantino

I've never had Tarantino up there with the greats, since his 'inspiration' for films is dubious, to say the least. However, I do enjoy a bit of punchy Reservoir Dogs-esque dialogue, which has been a running theme for some time. But Tarantino falters in Death Proof, leaving us with long dry patches between senseless violence and explosions. Everything's there, but in the wrong quantities and without the right actors to pull it off, meaning the Grindhouse B-Movie Planet Terror stole the show.

1. Jack (1996) Francis Ford Coppola

I came across this one by accident as I surfed IMDB. The director of The Godfather and its sequels, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now also directed a mediocre-at-best film about Robin Williams aging backwards? This was a shock. I always thought the skeleton in the Coppola closet was Sofia.

Trailer Released for Herzog's 'My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?'

The trailer for Herzog's latest film, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done is out, and looking great.

Produced by David Lynch, the film is based on the true story of Mark Yavorsky, who stabs his mother through the chest with an antique sword. With such big names attached, this looks like a winner, but at the moment the only chance of seeing it is in Toronto, as it has no US or UK release date as of yet.

Werner Herzog's 'Encounters At The End Of The World' Clip Released

Documenting the lives of people who choose to live in Antartica, Werner Herzog's latest offering is on its way to DVD by the end of the month.

To mark the occasion, here's a clip of some crazy old men trying to exorcise a machine at the end of the world.

Apparently virgins are hard to find at the South Pole.

Sunday, 30 August 2009


I found myself slightly inebriated in Leicester Square during Fright Fest and so thought I'd take in a midnight movie at the Empire Cinema.

The premiere of the Indonesian horror Macabre, directed by the Mo Brothers and billed as 'the goriest film ever shown at Fright Fest' certainly turned some heads, and maintained a good turnout considering its witching hour showing time.

We're quickly given a relatively simple set-up - a group of Indonesian young adults on a roadtrip as they emigrate to Australia. Passport; check, visa; check, heavily pregnant woman and spouse; check. On the road they come across the oddly aloof Maya, who claims to have been robbed. At this point, Maya's character seems to draw upon the role of the quintessential Japanese female horror character: mute, facially-obscured, and with mandatory long hair.

The good samaritans agree to give the girl a lift, and upon arrival, are invited into the sprawling mansion Maya calls her abode. There they meet the Indonesian Addam's Family, and the nightmare begins, complete with unbridled violence and creative torture in bloody detail.

The film works with a few themes, but never manages to get its teeth fully into any of them. We have the almost Victorian ghostliness of the family, but this idea is picked up and thrown away at the narrative's convenience. No doubt, the mother holds the film together in this respect, but her transformation into some sort of Terminator-style immortal borders into the ridiculous. The torture scenes play on themes explored in films such as the original Saw, but never seems to touch the audience beyond revulsion. Even the inclusion of the pregnant mother's imminent arrival with her assailants waiting for the birth outside the door fails to touch the sides, and was eclipsed by audience laughter as the plot took outlandish turns for shock value.

There are a number of twists in the tale, but they seem to be heavily diluted due to the concentration of narrative ideas. Dozens of characters arrive at the house, escape, and are dispatched at regular intervals, leaving the audience unable to connect with any of them. Most characters are nothing more than meat for a gory opportunity, but none are used to their full potential.

Macabre attempts to disturb, but makes the rookie mistake of trying too hard when it matters most. It underestimates the imagination of the audience, and instead concentrates on showing the intimate detail of each horrific event, overindulging the human desire to see, and numbing the senses. A more focused approached to fully exploring one area would have produced a far more intense viewing experience, but the mishmashing of various ideas left a flat feeling of missed opportunity.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Most Annoying Film Characters of All Time

Sometimes a film could be great, but some awful character fucks it up. Sometimes the character's irritating qualities make the film great, but we could never admit this to ourselves. Anyway, the reasons they exist are not for us to explain, only document. Here's my personal top ten twats.

10. "The Kids" - Jurassic Park (Joseph Mazello and Ariana Richards)

It took some serious IMDB action to find their names. How the fuck did they survive Jurassic Park? Sam Neill is running his arse off, and they can't even manage simple things like getting out of a car or jumping off some soon-to-be-live electrical pylons. 'Oh, I'll just cling on for dear life, STOP CLIMBING DOWN LIKE I WAS BEFORE and wait to die'. What is wrong with you? Poor Sam Neill, he could have just saved himself, would have saved us all a lot of time. Although, watching the kid fly off the live gate is something I find enjoyable, if not carthartic, to watch.

Lex shining a light at a T-Rex like a tard. If Darwinism was foolproof, you wouldn't even exist.

9. "The Cable Guy" - The Cable Guy (Jim Carrey)

I like this film, even though a lot of people don't. Despite Jim Carrey being on this list, he's quite good in it. But only for brief periods of time. Little strokes of genius between long stretches of lisping and shouting and pulling faces. "Can I have your skin?" - wonderful, dark, love it. But generally just acting like... Jim Carrey, something I can't tolerate for more than about 4 seconds.

Gurning for just under 2 hours = $20m in Carrey's bank account. No wonder it bombed.

8. "Short Round" - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Jonathan Ke Quan)

Don't get me wrong, kids irritate me in films as a sort of rule. But the fact that arrogance becomes 'pluckiness' when it's done by an eight-year-old means Short Round stands out from the others. All the scenes he's in become a barrage of one-liners and 'childish wit', making this kid think he's the dog's bollocks. Yes, you're eight, but you didn't write this stuff, and nobody likes plagiarism.


7. "Will Turner" - Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (Orlando "Wooden as a Floorboard" Bloom)

Disney really know how to pick a bland role model. His 'good looks' are disputable, and putting him next to Johnny Depp in a film and calling Bloom the star is almost laughably embarrassing. Heroes devoid of emotion, personality, expression, movement and signs of life are not good role models. He doesn't even like pirates, so what is the point of him exactly? Pirates rule, Bloom drools.

Bloom in the second film. One of his more critically acclaimed roles.

6. "Wendy Torrance" - The Shining (Shelley Duvall)

I can understand why Kubrick psychologically beat this woman down to an emotional pulp. No doubt, she performs well, but she seems to do more than enough to push Jack over the edge. Unfortunately Duvall's performance of Wendy is of a snivelling, whiny, pathetic, irritating, shrill excuse for a woman.

Not a great role model for anti-domestic abuse campaigns. She seems to invite sympathy for her abuser more than anything else.

5. "Willie Scott" - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Kate Capshaw)

Two of these twats in the same film. But Willie is marginally worse. And, unbelievably, seven years after this film was made, Spielberg married Capshaw. Was this the tipping point? Capshaw plays a spoilt, whining princess who follows Indy around like some sort of pampered dog, moaning that she doesn't have enough scented candles or some other bollocks. The point of no return came when Indiana is about to be crushed by spikes and she won't press the button because of the 'scary bugs'. The woman needs a slap.

4. "Jar Jar Binks" - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Ahmed Best)

We can chart the moment that George Lucas stopped trying to make films and started to try and sell irritating but profitable toys and franchises. Right... about... now. What an annoying, gimpish loser (Jar Jar, I mean. Although...) Jar Jar Binks has no determinable positive attributes, he just makes unfunny remarks and hopes that we'll find his ignorance and clumsiness amusing. We don't. And we didn't miss the racial undertones either. I hope the deal with Mattel was worth it.

3. "Dobby" - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Toby Jones)

Another animated creature that just seems to only be there to provide frustration for the audience. A combination of Jar Jar Binks and Wendy Torrance, with the appearance of Vladmir Putin. As if referring to himself in the third person repeatedly isn't annoying enough, his snivelling and whining makes him absolutely unbearable.

If only his habitual self-harm extended to suicide.

2. "Basher Tarr" - Ocean's Eleven (Don Cheadle)

A terrible character with a terrible accent, rivalling Dick Van Dyke's "cockney" Bert in Mary Poppins in the bad accent stakes. Why the producers insisted on changing the American actor's accent to this abomination is beyond my knowledge. Cheadle steals the scene (and not in a good way) with his enthusiastic, but inevitably awful line: "We're in Barney. Barney Rubble. TROUBLE!!"

1. "Carter Burke" - Aliens (Paul Reiser)

I KNOW every piece has their villain, but this character is such a conniving little shit, it's impossible for it not to get under your skin. After lying to Ripley et al. to get to the Alien-infested planet in the first place, he will do anything to get an alien sample back to Earth, even going as far as to release a facehugger in Ripley and Newt's sleeping quarters. Then when the aliens break lose, he hides like a whimpering little coward and locks the door behind him. Only to be greeted by an Alien. Yum yum.

A cowardly perm if ever I saw one.

Christ, what a bunch of bellends. But remember, all they're guilty of is either being shit actors or taking on roles which would seal their fate forever as a twat. So please, no abuse or excrement in the post, it's only fiction.

Avatar Trailer

In development for 15 years, Cameron's latest Avatar has been announced to be released on December 15th, 2009. The project was originally sidelined until the cinematic technology was advanced enough to meet with Cameron's wishes.

The plot seems to be pretty bollocks, but ZOMG SHINY.

It's also going to be in 3D. I hate 3D. The glasses make me look like a moron and I don't want stuff thrown at my face for 3 hours. These people might be at the cinema on DATES. Did you consider their vanity, Cameron? NO, YOU DID NOT.

The computer-generated live action is so close to real life, Cameron explained that the mixture of the two is barely separable in the audience's minds:

"Ideally at the end of the day the audience has no idea which they’re looking at."

...Was this worth $100 million? If they're not meant to be able to tell the difference, why don't you just use PEOPLE instead?! You'd think 12 years would be long enough to subdue the Titanic-based ego trip, but obviously not.

"The Wolfman" Release Date Announced... Again.

After nine months or so of delays, The Wolfman production is very much back in motion, with a(nother) release date announced for February 2010.

Reasons for being more confident about the 3rd 'official' date? Because they've released the trailer.

Hmmmmm... I WANT this to be good, but in reality, it just looks like a well-edited trailer of an instantly forgettable popcorn horror. And, Joe Johnston's resume of Jumanji, Jurassic Park III and Honey I Shrunk the Kids is by no means one that fills me with confidence.

Also, is the long wait one which has been attributed to some niggling problems with some very expensive yet inevitably crummy looking CGI? Most likely.

Some decent names on board, including Benicio Del Toro, Hugo Weaving and Anthony Hopkins. But the trailer I found as confusing as the mismashing of 'British' accents. The story looks great on the back of the packet, but everything in the promo just looks like the cream of the mediocre.

I guess there's nothing to do now but wait until February.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Takashi Shimizu Makes Film About Coldplay

Not really, that's bollocks. But it's almost true.

Director of The Grudge on both sides of the Pacific, Shimizu has just announced his latest project; a film about a song so depressing, it makes the listener commit suicide. Sorry if you got lampooned by the title, as you can see, it was actually a veiled critique on the music of Coldplay. BOOM BOOM.

Anyway, sounds a bit cheesy and potentially lame to me. Like White Noise.


Inglourious Basterds: Beggars can't be choosers. Difficult to separate the critics from the Tarantino fanboys. Probably worth the £7, but not by much.

The Time Traveller's Wife: LOL. If I want to watch time travelling shit, I'll watch Doctor Who. I got burned being in the same room as P.S. I Love You. Wounds run deep.
Time Travel+Mush-Dinosaurs=Twatfest.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

'An American Werewolf in London' Remake Announced

According to recent news, John Landis has given the green light to a remake of the cult horror classic: An American Werewolf in London.

Anyone else really quite upset by this?

First Ridley Scott cashed in on the Alien franchise (again), now Landis is doing the same.

Apparently Dimension are the ones with the rights now, not that it really makes a difference.


Oh go ahead and finish it. Tell me you've cast Matt Damon as the star. I'm fed up of this life as it is. Finish me off.

P.S. Seeing the film plus director Q&A at Fright Fest next Friday. My Paypal is open. Give me £100 and I'll punch Landis in the face on your behalf. £200 and I'll get a signed photo of it as well.