This Week In The Obvious: Twilight Is Annoying
It’s the most aggravating time of the year: as each chapter of the Twilight behemoth slouches into theaters, so follows the bitter, tired mockery. Not that Twilight isn’t completely deserving of mockery, but I’m more inclined to ignore the phenomenon and hope that it goes away. There are a few bright spots in the rapidly growing field of Twilight criticism, (besides our own incomparably brilliant satire, of course), like Vulture’s Eclipse slideshow and The Onion News Network’s excellent video (below). So if you’re drowning in your own Twilight bile, check these out for some validation
Al-Qaeda Calls Off Attack On Nation's Capitol To Spare Life Of 'Twilight' Author
Remember District 9? Well this is like that, only in Mexico.
Gareth Edward made waves at this year’s SXSW with his new independent sci-fi film, Monsters. While the film may have been made for as little as $15,000, critics have been salivating over every element of the film, from the surprisingly good special effects to the unknown cast and compelling story.
Here’s the official synopsis:
“Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life forms began to appear and grow. In an effort to stem the destruction that resulted, half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain the massive creatures… Our story begins when a jaded US journalist begrudgingly agrees to find his bosses daughter, a shaken American tourist and escort her through the infected zone to the safety of the US border.”
While the last sentence of that summary sounds a bit predictable for my taste (do you think they'll end up falling in love?) it's really all in the execution. And the execution is supposed to be excellent. If you didn’t get a chance to see the film at Cannes or SXSW, the film has been picked up by Magnolia Picture’s Magnet division, and will open in select theaters on October 29th. Consider me officially excited.
Eagle-eyed readers of this column may remember my reference to webcomic Goodbye Chains a few weeks ago. Well, starting today the comic is on haitus until October, so it’s the perfect time to dive in to the story. It's got all the fun of an old-school western with great art, and fun characters and an eye for historical detail. Plus, it’s got a gay, communist cowboy, how can you possibly resist?
GOD DAMMIT DREAMWORKS WE TALKED ABOUT THIS
Remember what I said about the DreamWorks face? Well check out the new Megamind Poster. They must be doing this on purpose now just to piss off the internet.
The Harry Potter star was honoured with the PPG Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film trophy for his role in the new movie, which sees Rhys Ifans portray notorious drug smuggler Howard Marks.
The festival jury, which included Sir Patrick Stewart, director Mike Hodges and actress Britt Ekland, called Thewlis' performance as Irish Republican Army activist Jim McCann "energetic and electrifying".
Thewlis said, "This is a thrill and totally unexpected, and made all the more special by being honoured by one of my favourite cities in the world."
The Best New British Feature Film prize went to Skeletons, which features Thewlis' Harry Potter co-star Jason Isaacs, while America Ferrera's The Dry Land was named Best International Feature.
Robert Duvall's dark comedy Get Low took the 2010 Standard Life Audience Award and Gareth Edwards won the Moet New Directors Award for Monsters. The Best Feature Documentary Award went to The Oath.
Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton was on hand to help present the awards in her role as festival patron.
Source: Magnet Releasing
One of the most hyped movies to premiere at this year's South By Southwest Film Festival was Gareth Edward's first full-length effort Monsters, a creature feature that aimed to turn the genre on it's ear. Within hours of its world premiere, Wagner/Cuban's Magnet Releasing (the genre unit of Magnolia Pictures) picked up US rights to the film. For a more in depth read about the film itself, check out Hollywood.com contributor Peter Hall's latest Mind Food blog.
Produced by Allan Niblo and James Richardson of Vertigo Films (Bronson), the film was shot as a road movie, traveling through Guatemala, Mexico and the US, involving local people alongside its key cast Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able.
The film is described as follows:
Six years ago previously, a NASA probe returning to earth with samples of an alien life form, crashed over Central America. Soon after, new life forms began to appear, and half of Mexico was quarantined as an "INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain "the creatures"... The story begins when a US journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through the infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.
Tom Quinn, SVP of Magnolia Pictures acquisitions, commented: "We were blown away by 'Monsters' - I can't think of a more exciting addition to the Magnet slate. Gareth Edwards is an extraordinary talent and we're thrilled to bring his vision to American audiences."
Producers Allan Niblo and James Richardson commented: "Having kept the film a secret for so long, Vertigo is thrilled to have Magnet not only discover it at this year's SXSW Fest but immediately become our US partner on this groundbreaking movie. We are all looking forward to releasing 'Monsters' together onto an unsuspecting world."
As a wife and mother Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) has a seemingly idyllic life until a sudden accident rips her family away from her. That sets in motion a kind of healing reunion a year later. Her feisty friend Juno (Natalie Mendoza) and Beth (Alex Reid) convince Sarah to join a few other friends on a caving expedition--including Holly (Nora-Jane Noone) a butch caver who impulsively does whatever she wants and Rebecca (Saskia Mulder) an overly-cautious climber who needs to map out everything they do. Thing is this thrill-seeking challenge turns out to much more than they expected especially when they are trapped and suddenly notice white shadows squirming around them. Not good. The mostly unknown actresses in this scare fest are all decent in their Descent--and although grappling with one-dimensional characters the women still manage to convey the suffocating feeling of being confined in small spaces. In the dark dripping wet environ they deliver realistic reactions to the horror unfolding around them which is about as chilling as anyone can imagine. MacDonald as the long-suffering widow is a particular treat as she changes from a pitiful whiner to a kick-ass survivor who exacts revenge in different ways. Originally released in England British director Neil Marshall has handed us an appropriately creepy film which taps into primal fears--dark claustrophobic spaces things that go bump in the night--situations we usually see men deal with. So it's quite refreshing to watch women handle it especially in the way Marshall unravels the female camaraderie as expertly as the climbers tie their ropes. The Descent displays squirm-inducing violence that's not at all white-washed just because there are ladies involved. It's gory and brutal. The scariest moments are often obscured by the dark and in some scenes the film resorts to a Blair Witch Project point of view by watching the action through a camcorder. Although this Americanized version has a different ending from the British version (apparently one not so morbid) it's still far better than last year's abysmal The Cave. The Descent will definitely get your heart rate up!
The Crusades were a series of religious wars in which the Christians tried to reclaim Jerusalem from the Muslims who had conquered the Middle East in the 7th century. With the battle cry of "God wills it! " thousands of Europeans answered the call and were able to retake the fabled Holy City in the 11th century. Kingdom of Heaven begins in 1186 between the Second and Third Crusades. A fragile peace prevails mostly through the efforts of Jerusalem's enlightened Christian king Baldwin IV (Edward Norton) and the military restraint of the legendary Muslim leader Saladin (Ghassan Massoud). But it's difficult to maintain the peace. There are extremists within the Christian brigades--known as the Knights Templar--who want to wipe every Muslim off the face of the Earth. On top of that King Baldwin's health is failing. Once he's gone war is sure to follow. If ever there was a need for a hero this is the time. Enter the young French blacksmith Balian (Orlando Bloom) who is in deep despair over the loss of his family. He joins the Crusades after the father he never knew Godfrey (Liam Neeson) comes back from Jerusalem and convinces him it's a quest worth fighting for. As Godfrey passes his sword to his son he also passes on that sacred knightly oath: to protect the helpless safeguard the peace and work toward harmony between religions and cultures so that a kingdom of heaven can flourish on earth. No pressure or anything though.
Orlando Bloom carries his first major motion picture very well easily handling the chores of being such a gallant conscientious and morally upstanding knight. As Balian the Troy costar plays the gamut. He broods over his lost wife and child has father-son epiphanies upholds his knightly duties on a regular basis falls in love with a beautiful but troubled princess and finally bravely defends the Holy City from the encroaching Muslim army thus becoming a legend. Not bad for a day's work eh? There are even times especially toward the end when Balian is standing before the denizens of Jerusalem urging them to fight when you swear you can see a little of Bloom's The Lord of the Rings alter-elf Legolas creep in. The supporting cast also does an adequate job painting a picture of some trying times. Chief among them: Jeremy Irons as King Baldwin's right-hand man Tiberias; Marton Csokas (The Bourne Supremacy) as the evil leader of the Knights Templar; Massoud as the great warrior Saladin; and lovely Eva Green (The Dreamers) as Princess Sibylla King Baldwin's sister who captures our hero's heart but makes some bad choices with dire consequences.
Even if these sword-and-armor epics are all blending together you've got to give props to the directors who make them. These films are massive undertakings and Kingdom of
Heaven with the expert Ridley Scott at the helm is no exception. The Oscar-winning director of course has had his fair share of recreating history first with the classic Gladiator and then with the contemporary Black Hawk Down. But in recreating the Crusades Scott faces his toughest challenge to date and takes on the responsibility very seriously. He is painstakingly meticulous with details even as he is building a 12th-century Jerusalem or corralling 2 000 heavily costumed extras for the colossal climactic battle sequences. And it is always a good thing when a historical film can teach you something you may not have known like what the heck the Crusades were really all about. No Kingdom's biggest obstacle is timing. While it certainly has more substance than Alexander it is not nearly as intense and stirring as The Lord of the Rings trilogy or the granddaddy of them all Braveheart. Too many of its ilk has come before and the concept has unfortunately worn thin.
For a few years in the '60s and '70s producer Gerry Anderson made "supermarionation" all the rage in the world of British children's television. His stop-motion puppets starred in a number of sci-fi adventure series most memorably Thunderbirds which followed the exploits of International Rescue -- a team comprised of ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his sons. Based out of their secret fortress on Treasure Island the Tracys (aided by lovely secret agent Lady Penelope) used their amazing rocket-powered vehicles to prevent disasters and save lives around the world. Now 40 years after Thunderbirds' TV debut Star Trek vet Jonathan Frakes has brought Anderson's characters to life on the big screen. Front and center is youngest son Alan Tracy (Brady Corbet) who dreams of the day he too can pilot one of his family's fab ships and lead missions. But first he has to prove himself to his father Jeff (Bill Paxton). That opportunity comes sooner than either expects when mysterious villain The Hood (Ben Kingsley) strands Jeff and the older Tracy boys in space and attacks Treasure Island. With only his friends Tintin (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) and Fermat (Soren Fulton) to help him Alan has to grow up quickly if he wants to save his family ... and the world!
It would be easy to mock several of the performances in Thunderbirds-- to chide Paxton for his earnest seriousness as Tracy patriarch Jeff to dismiss Corbet's angst-tinged eagerness as Alan to roll your eyes at Kingsley's over-the-top mystical fierceness as The Hood and to wince at Fulton and Anthony Edwards' nerdy stuttering as science whizzes Fermat and his dad Brains. But actors are only as good as their script and the one Frakes has given his cast (courtesy of screenwriters William Osborne and Michael McCullers) is weak and clichéd at best filled with after-school-special-worthy lessons for Alan to learn. "You can't save everyone " Jeff tells his son somberly and even Tintin has a moral for her crush when he's feeling selfish and indulging in self-pity: "This is hard on all of us Alan." Talk about insight! What makes it even more frustrating is knowing that the actors are capable of much more even the kids: Both Corbet and Hudgens did well with supporting roles in Thirteen. Thunderbirds' only real bright spot is Sophia Myles as Lady Penelope. A cross between Reese Witherspoon's Elle in Legally Blonde and Jennifer Garner's Sydney on Alias Myles' Lady P doesn't let her pink couture wardrobe prevent her from coolly kicking ass when the situation demands it. Attended by her droll driver/man-of-all-trades Parker (Ron Cook) Lady Penelope is a fresh feisty heroine with all of the film's best lines -- and the coolest car to boot.
Frakes cut his directorial teeth on episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and his first feature film was Star Trek: First Contact so he would seem like a natural choice to bring a cult sci-fi TV show to the big screen. Unfortunately while he does an admirable job re-creating (and improving on) the original Thunderbirds' mod sets cool ships and special effects (which are fine if a bit more TV-sized than summer blockbustery) Frakes can't seem to decide who his audience is. If he was aiming at grown-ups who remember the show fondly from their own childhood he should have embraced the source material's campiness (à la Starsky and Hutch) rather than restricting it to the Tracys' plastic Barbie-like furniture and Lady P's bouffant hairdo. If on the other hand Frakes was hoping to entertain today's kids he should have really reinvented the show for a 21st-century world (à la Stephen Hopkins'1998 Lost in Space) rather than clinging to the '60s references As it is he's stuck somewhere in the middle leaving adults bored during the kids-on-an-adventure bits and children mystified by the handful of jokes aimed at their parents.