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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.

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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)

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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

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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.

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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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Tsangari: With my next film, White Knuckles, it comes with a budget — it’s going to be a huge new world for me. As always when I enter into a new thing, don’t you wonder how it’s going to be and how much of yourself you are going to have to sacrifice? The ballet of all of this. I’m already imaging the choreography — not of the camera, but the choreography of actually bringing it to life. It is as fascinating as the shooting itself. I find the producing as exciting as the directing. The one informs the other. There is this producer-director hat that I constantly wear. I’ve been thinking about these early auteurs, like Howard Hawks and John Ford and Preston Sturges—all of these guys basically were hired by the studio, and I doubt they had final cut, and somehow they had films that now we can say they had their signatures.  There are different ways of being creative within the parameters and limitations of production. The only thing you cannot negotiate is stupidity.
Filmmaker: And unfortunately, there is an abundance of that in the world.
Tsangari: This is the only big risk: stupidity. Everything else is completely worked out in the end.
~ Chevalier‘s Rachel Athina Tsangari

“The middle-range movies that I was doing have largely either stopped being made, or they’ve moved to television, now that television is a go-to medium for directors who can’t get work in theatricals, because there are so few theatricals being made. But also with the new miniseries concept, you can tell a long story in detail without having to cram it all into 90 minutes. You don’t have to cut the characters and take out the secondary people. You can actually put them all on a big canvas. And it is a big canvas, because people have bigger screens now, so there’s no aesthetic difference between the way you shoot a movie and the way you shoot a TV show.

“Which is all for the good. But what’s happened in the interim is that theatrical movies being a spectacle business are now either giant blockbuster movies that run three hours—even superhero movies run three hours, they used to run like 58 minutes!—and the others, which are dysfunctional family independent movies or the slob comedy or the kiddie movie, and those are all low-budget. So the middle ground of movies that were about things, they’re just gone. Or else they’re on HBO. Like the Bryan Cranston LBJ movie, which years ago would’ve been made for theaters.

“You’ve got people like Paul Schrader and Walter Hill who can’t get their movies theatrically distributed because there’s no market for it. So they end up going to VOD, and VOD is a model from which no one makes any money, because most of the time, as soon as they get on the site, they’re pirated. So the whole model of the system right now is completely broken. And whether or not anybody’s going to try to fix, or if it even can be fixed, I don’t know. But it’s certainly not the same business that I got into in the ’70s.”
~ Joe Dante

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