Film Fatale

DOOMSDAY: Neil Marshall Interview

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‘Doomsday’ has Apocalypse Wow
(An expanded version of my story from the NY Daily News, March 11.
by Justine Elias
(Doomsday opens March 14. Universal’s official movie site is here.)
Forget all quaint notions of plaid kilts, malt whiskey, and Highland terriers: In the futuristic action movie Doomsday, Scotland, circa 2035, is a walled-off quarantine zone. A virus has wiped out 99.9 percent of the population. When a new outbreak ravages London, the government forms team of commandos to seize survivors north of the border and find cure. But the remaining Scots are hostile. Breaking out is impossible. Breaking in would be insane. Who’ll be tough enough to lead the mission?
For DOOMSDAY director/writer Neil Marshall, 37, the heroine is Maj. Eden Sinclair, played by Rhona Mitra. (Picture a female Snake Plissken, the badass hero of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK) Sinclair’s got guns, a posh accent, and a mechanical camera-eye. “Eden’s a child of the apocalypse,” says Marshall. “Her mother sacrifices herself to save her, and she remembers that moment. Rhona was great at showing those feelings.” And like Kurt Russell’s Snake, Eden’s got a mean streak. Says Marshall, “Rhona’s got a very cruel smile.”

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TERMINATOR Time Loops

I’m not the only one who’s bewildered by the criss crossing time lines (loops?) of THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES and the first two TERMINATOR movies. (I guess we’re supposed to put T3 out of our minds, as though it didn’t happen. But it did: I saw it.)
Todd Seavey leaps into the the whole time travel issue in this timely essay. By Seavey’s count,

“(ignoring comic books and other spin-off material), there have been at least three Terminator timelines (though I’m using the term “timeline” loosely, since the general implication in the Terminator universe is that there is, strictly speaking, only one timeline and that it undergoes changes…. —this all quickly gets absurd if the time travelers of 2032 have potentially unlimited power to keep going back and changing things — Terminator quickly becomes Groundhog Day, or at least becomes that bit from Family Guy where Peter keeps going back in time and screwing up his first date with Lois.”

Go ahead.
Geek out with him. He’s a smart guy. He’s done this before with the STAR WARS films and the fictional universes of the films, tv specials and books.
I’m happily trapped in the 1970s with the time-travelling (or comatose and dreaming) hero of LIFE ON MARS.

What '24' Would Have Looked Like in '94

If Fox runs out of episodes of 24, the network can run this top secret, never before seen pilot: what the deadly game of spies vs. terrorists would have looked like in 1994.
Produced by College Humor
(Thanks to Andrew Hearst of Panopticist for the link)

Horse-Happy Film Critic Rescues Racehorses

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The Boston Globe reports today on one of its former film critics, Michael Blowen, whose post-reviewing life has taken a surprising turn. A horse lover, he learned that many retired racehorses were sold for slaughter. (He saw the practice firsthand as a volunteer stableman at Suffolk Downs, where older, losing thoroughbreds went to their doom for mere $500.)
So after Blowen left the Globe, he founded a nonprofit organization called Old Friends to fund retirement home for old racehorses.
Read about Old Friends, Dream Chase Farms, a true paradise for horses — and a truly standup guy, Michael Blowen.
“There’s even a movie star on the farm. Popcorn Deelites was one of eight horses who played Seabiscuit in the Academy Award-nominated movie. Pops – as Blowen calls him – is in every scene where Seabiscuit breaks from the gate.”

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Apoca-lipstick Chic

What to wear to your end of the world party?
Out: Mad Max leather and homemade haircuts.
In: Guns, garters and deep red Apoca-lipstick.
This Sunday in the New York Daily News: Hot heroines(and a few heroes) of the Apocalyptic cinema
Milla Jovovich, RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION
Rhona Mitra, DOOMSDAY
Will Smith, I AM LEGEND
Gerard Butler, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (the forthcoming remake)
Michelle Yeoh, SUNSHINE
and a few of favorites from the 1970s and 1980s
Adrienne Barbeau & Season Hubley, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981)
Rosalind Cash, THE OMEGA MAN (1971)
Linda Harrison, PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

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Film (Production) Fatale

I will be taking a few weeks break from the Film-Fatale blog while I work on the production side of a film.
-JE

Want To See A Scary Short Film?

Want to see a wicked scary short film?
Watch TEN STEPS by Brendan Muldowney.

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Revenge of the Revenge Movie: BRAVE ONE, DEATH SENTENCE

Get ready for the revenge of the Revenge Movie.
Two trailers — very similar — catch your attention. The movies don’t promise the same depth or quality: THE BRAVE ONE, starring Jodie Foster and directed by Neil Jordan, looks far more intriguing and troubling, while DEATH SENTENCE, with Kevin Bacon, looks like a formula picture.
Check out the trailers, posters and tagline: the genre never fails to go for the gut. From THE BRAVE ONE, there’s complexity – conflict. “We’re on your side,” says Terrence Howard, the sympathetic detective. Replies Foster: “How come it doesn’t feel like that?” And her voice over – she’s going over the edge. “It is astonishing to find inside you there is a stranger.” There’s a great trailer line for Foster, who can’t help but sound badass: “I want my dog back.”
Were there trailer lines before blaxploitation movies, Clint Eastwood and Dirty Harry?

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Guardian's Ahoy to the Pirate Bay Crew

As if you know know their site, or some site exactly like it.
The Guardian hoists a black flag and introduces us to the Swedish computer geeks whom Hollywood despises: the pirates behind Pirate Bay. (The link is to the newspaper story, not the torrenty site.)
Obligatory fuming quote from the MPAA: “The bottom line is that the operators of The Pirate Bay, and others like them, are criminals who profit handsomely by facilitating the distribution of copyrighted creative works,” says John Malcolm, the group’s MPAA.

BOUNTY GIRLS: Cuff 'Em, Ladies!

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Everything that the movie DOMINO should have been, and all the bail bond parts of JACKIE BROWN — but with tough dames instead of tough Robert Forster: that’s Court TV’s new reality series BOUNTY GIRLS, my new TV obsession.
How cool are these bounty hunters, the four wily Miami women of Sunshine State Bail Bonds? On their recent visit to NBC’s Today show, they demonstrated the art of taking down a suspect — or somebody who’s bugging you.

NANNY DIARIES' Mrs. X? Try Times Select, Harvey

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When THE NANNY DIARIES came out in 2002, authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus insisted that the icy Mrs. X — the employer in their roman a clef wasn’t based on any one of their several real-life past bosses.
Nevertheless, a Manhattan guessing game ensued — and the acid-tinged gossip was captured thats pring by New York Times Styles section writer Alex Kucyzynksi.
Now that the movie’s out, and Laura Linney embodies the icy socialite Mrs. X, NANNY DIARIES producer Harvey Weinstein (according to the New York Post) was overheard offering some “well connected socialites” $100,000 to unmask the “real Mrs. X.” Has he and everyone else this thing called TimesSelect (or Google) to spark the memory? Suspect No. 1 was the author of THE PREPPY HANDBOOK.
(How nasty can Mrs. X be, anyway? If Laura Linney’s playing her, I know I’m going to come away respecting that bitch.)

Separated at Birth: IDENTICAL STRANGERS

[Book trailer directed by Anthony Orkin]
When I hadn’t seen my friend Paula Bernstein in a while, I wondered what she’d been up to. We were neighbors in Brooklyn, she was a reporter for Variety and I figured she was busy with her first daughter. I ran into her in Park Slope a couple of years ago and go, “So, Paula, what’s been going on?”
She had the most faraway look on her face. “You’re not going to believe this,” she says. “I remember you I haven’t told many people this yet, but I remember you telling me your mom is an identical twin..I found out I have an identical twin sister, and we were separated at birth. She contacted me through the adoption agency and we’ve met. It’s just — incredible.”
As in a movie, or a fairy tale – a rather dark one – Paula and identical twin, Elyse Schein, have gotten to know each other (this is the happy part) and explored the twisted circumstances of their separation. Together, they’ve written an extraordinary and moving memoir of sisterhood, blood and emotional ties called called IDENTICAL STRANGERS.

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KNOCKED UP, Chuck, Larry & The Guy/Guy Romances

Can’t do better than this headline.
“Ah, Hollywood, where men will be boys
What can big-screen women expect from love? A bong-sucking, porn-addled, baby-fatted slacker.”
Johanna Schneller of Toronto’s Globe and Mail gets to the heart of the male – boyish – romances of I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY, THE BREAK-UP, KNOCKED UP (a movie in which guys know 5,000 words for penis but can’t bring themselves to say the word ‘abortion.'”
Adam Sandler is perhaps the most talented actor who consistently under-casts himself, and Schneller perfectly describes his (or the movie’s?) over-indicative comic style: In a scene where he, pretending to be gay, lusts for gorgeous Jessica Biel,

“The agony in his eyes as Biel proffers her luscious but off-limits body is funny. The fact that he quickly has to tie his sweatshirt around his waist is funny. Yet Sandler can’t stop there – that wouldn’t be literal enough.
He has to jam his hand down his pants and fish around in there, fidgeting and readjusting so assiduously that he stops looking like a man wrestling with an erection, and starts looking like a toddler who has to go pee-pee.”

There it is, the annoyance in these movies: the heroes dwindle from manly — human — carnal appetites to childish antics. Maybe we’re supposed to think this is adorable. But I find it boring.

Emmy Noms: TV Docs, Directors to Watch

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Looking around at the Emmy Award previews in Variety and elsewhere, I saw some familiar names in the directing categories.
First up: the nonfiction category. No surprise to see which network dominates the category: HBO devotes considerable support to the documentary form (though Cinemax, PBS and Showtime deserve praise for their doc series, too.)
If Spike Lee‘s shattering Hurricane Katrina epic WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS doesn’t win the award, I think you’ll hear shouts of protest. This is passionate, pointed filmmaking from a director working at the top of his form.

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From the Desk of Uwe Boll

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From the Desk of Uwe Boll
Specially talented movie director and amateur boxer Uwe Boll has embarked upon an epistolary romance with WIRED reporter Chris Kohler.
This a correspondence will surely become as memorable as the rose-scented letters that flew back and forth between Robert Olen Butler and Gawker.
Highlights (from Boll)

chris,
your review shows me only that you dont understand anything about movies and that you are a untalented wanna bee filmmaker with no balls and no understanding what POSTAL is. you dont see courage because you are nothing. and no go to your mum and fuck her …because she cooks for you now since 30 years ..so she deserves it.
people like you are the reason that independent movies have no chance anymore.
uwe boll
PS: POSTAL is R RATED . The MPAA understood the satire — you not — you dumb fuck

Enjoy.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin