Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Black Swan trailer (by the creator of Requiem For A Dream)

Oh, I love this man. Watch this Black Swan trailer and find out why unless you've seen his work already.

My lovely work colleague wrote the article and I think she is quite right. With Darren Aaronofsky it is indeed about the "beautiful visuals, haunting storylines and dark morality".

What would make the perfect private cinema?

Okay, I would like...

A big round stone hut. At the back of a big garden.

A sign in front of the hut with those black letters you re-assemble to say the name of the film. You have to climb up a small ladder to update the sign.

A small tree-lined avenue lit with fairy lights to reach it.

Red carpet? You betcha! Only on premiere nights though :)

Missmatched bucket seats and sofa so people can drag them where they need them

Usherette with a tray of snacks. Essential. She must shine a light in the face of people talking once the film has started. Talking is allowed during trailers so long as you keep your voice down - not everyone thinks you're funny.

No ads. NO ADS!

All films come with a short pre-feature to build antication

Occasional film festivals and all-nighters

Okay, what would your perfect home cinema experience be?

Frightfest 2010

Frightfest 2010 is an annual London horror film festival. It started really small but now it shows films in Leicester Square - this is where all the UK premieres happen and it's a bit of a film landmark in London.

I love Frightfest because even though it's a really small and perfectly-formed film festival, it's still managed to get away with hosting the UK premieres of Scary Movie (what a silly film!), Pitch Black (Vince Diesel almost seems to be able to act) and Audition (Japanese, slow build, terrifying). It’s also premiered Donnie Darko, Dark Water. Insomnia, One Hour Photo, My Little Eye, Battle Royal, Jeepers Creepers, Brotherhood of the Wolf, The Devil’s Backbone, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Cabin Fever, House of a 1000 Corpses, Bellboy, Switchblade Romance, Old Boy, Land of the Dead, 2001 Maniacs, Night Watch, Seed, Eden Lake, Freakdog, Wolf Creek, Autopsy and Martyrs.

This year, everyone is talking about MONSTERS, one of the Frightfest 2010 premieres. It's a sci-fi fable about the quarantining of Mexico due to a crashed NASA space probe full of alien organisms...

Low-budget movies show if a writer or director is really good because it's harder to paper over the cracks in the talent with bundles of money.

The director of MONSTERS did all the special effects on his laptop - and people are saying this horror film is amazing! The new JJ Abrams maybe? Perhaps the success of MONSTERS will mean the studios let Gareth Edwards do CLOVERFIELD 3? Who knows :)

Monday, 9 August 2010

Role Models - DVD review

Man cannot live by high culture alone. I like to laugh. Do you like to laugh? Oh, please say you do! I think it's allowed, isn't it? I'm fairly sure I'm allowed to deeply enjoy a comedy gem as much as I'm allowed to savour, say, a biopic of Truman Capote. If I wasn't allowed, I would probably have to start a movie-viewing revolution. I LIKE TO LAUGH, DAMMIT!

Sometimes a mainstream comedy movie comes along that is so well-scripted, engaging and witty that you find yourself recommending it to people, buying the DVD and pushing it into their hands, and refusing to talk to them until they come back with a headful of quotes that you can croon at each other in sing-song.

Sometimes you don't even know the people you're recommending the movie to. Sometimes they're coffee baristas and strangers on trains, puzzled by your altruistic attempts to push a DVD into their bag with your sticky little hands. Sometimes they're cops. Sometimes they're judges. Sometimes they're... you know, cell buddies.

Well, I haven't gone that far. Yet. But I'm definitely recommending this movie to YOU. Because it is funny. Yes, funny!

Oh, I do like a funny movie!

Role Models came out in 2008. It's a miss-matched buddy comedy about two good friends grinding along as soft drink reps. Wild behaviour caused by an emotional break-up leads to Wheeler (Seann William Scott) and Danny (Paul Rudd) being forced to enrol in a child mentor programme to stay out of jail. Sturdy Wings, is a child mentor scheme commandeered by an eccentric played by Jane Lynch (who essentially reprises her glorious performance as sports coach Sue Sylvester in GLEE. Although I think GLEE came after ROLE MODELS).

The children that Danny and Wheeler have been lumped with are a foul-mouthed firecracker (whose mother is training him to be a Proud Little Black Man) and an introverted virgin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse from KICK-ASS) who retains his sanity by waving a rubber sword at live roleplay events where the social politics are fictional yet fierce.

Will Danny and Wheeler resolve their status as no-hopers? Will they bond with their delinquent charges? Will everyone learn something about themselves by the end of the movie? Yes. Probably. But I'm not here to provide plot spoilers. It's not what happens in life, it's how you get there.

In terms of sharp script and engagement, ROLE MODELS is up there with MEAN GIRLS. And we all know what a wonderful job Tina Fey did with that!

So go on. Let me press a virtual copy of ROLE MODELS into your hands. Was the DVD cover a bit sticky? Sorry about that. It's just that I'm so excited.

And let me know what you thought of it. Perhaps we can croon at each other with quotes from our favourite moments...

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Guillermo Del Toro - The Fairytale Man

When I think of Guillermo del Toro, I think of fairytales. Rather dark fairytales, but that's an oxymoron - I can't think of any fairytale that isn't.

Del Toro is renowned for juggling blockbusters with more personal projects, managing to get the moolah from one set of films and the critical acclaim from all things.

But I'm not here to talk about Del Toro's standing in the industry. If you've heard of him (and I'm sure you have) then his standing is assured.

I'm here to talk about fairytales.

No matter how much budget is splashed, the unnerving props and sets in Guillermo Del Toro's movies always look childlike and home-made. The dimensions are awry. The masks look like masks, like caricatures of masks. Everything feels like an old-fashioned prop, not like CGI. There is no 'slick' in a Guillermo Del Toro movie. There are curling tendrils, distorting faces, streaks of greasepaint, curling clawhands straight out of an SFX workshop - you can almost smell the glue holding them together.

Much as I enjoy them both, I'd go so far as to suggest that Guillermo Del Toro is James Cameron's opposite. Two brothers: One light, one dark.

But this hokery-pokery is absolutely what I love about a Guillermo Del Toro film. Fairytales are about primal fears and desires. And I like my primal served up primal, with a slab of primal on the side and a tall glass of primal to wash it down with.

Children's drawings are primal. They're also scratchy and curly and unpolished. Artist Arthur Rackham's fairies are delicately malevolent, odd little pills to swallow. The childlike in me wants mess and chaos and clutter and confusion. I want to FEEL my way through a darkly primal film, not be led there by a smooth neon arrow.

Pan's Labyrinth, or Hellboy: Creative artifice, clunky clockwork gadgetry, skittering little insects and robots... It doesn't look real. It looks like a dream you are willing to suspend disbelief for. That means you're willing to walk into a dream. How powerful is that?

I love the way that Del Torro's work reminds me fantastical silent movies by directors like Max Castle. Has he got a new way of seeing things? Or just a very, very old one?

I'd say he's got a dark, fairytale, old-fashioned approach to how he makes films look and feel.

That's why I'm intrigued to hear that Guillermo del Toro will be directing THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS.

For those who've not heard of this tale, it's a Chthulhu yarn by H.P.Lovecraft - a horror writer from the early 20th century who created fabulous monsters - ancient gods whose morals we couldn't fathom, whose dimensions and geometries our eyes couldn't understand.

When I think of Pan's Labyrinth, I'd say Del Toro will be perfectly suited, with his theatrical clutter and old-fashioned workings, to bringing impossible geometries to the big screen.

Especially since I hear MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS will be released in 3D...