"Nightmare" trailer

Myspace has the HD trailer for Platinum Dunes’ “Nightmare on Elm Street” remake up, here’s the embedd:

I have three immediate strong reactions to this, which I’m inclined to imagine will be shared by a great deal of the web-surfing horror-fan contingent:

#1: The apparent fidelity to the original film(s) is genuinely shocking: Not only do a bevy of the first installments most iconic scenes seem to have been preserved; but the composition, color-palette and even the lighting looks the same. The shot of the pool-party looks like a direct screengrab from “Freddy’s Revenge.” Hell, is that the same factory, even? Color me intrigued, since PD’s previous 80s-horror revamps were both top-to-bottom overhauls.

#2: No really good look at the Freddy makeup yet, maybe they’ll try to save that for opening night, but we do get to hear what is probably Jackie Earl Haley’s “official” Freddy Voice. THIS part is definately NOT aping the originals… the usual malevolent, self-satisfied cackle seems absent from Freddy’s disposition here. If nothing else, it shows that Haley has been granted room to move around in this.

#3: The opening moments of the trailer would seem to confirm the early rumors that there was going to be an added “wrinkle” to the story this time involving the presence of significant doubt as to whether or not Freddy was actually GUILTY of the crimes he was killed for. This will be controversial to fans, but I can understand the angle: A big part of the story in the original film is solving the mystery of just who Freddy Krueger actually is/was. Since the audience this time around can no longer be surprised by those revelations, it makes sense to stage new ones.

I remain fully skeptical that Michael Bay and his Dunes friends are capable of EVER producing a good film, but color me a lot less skeptical than I was ten minutes ago.

Polanski, Part II

Well, this didn’t exactly take long even on a Sunday…

Predictably, L’Affaire Polanski ceased to be about the particulars of extraditing an ex-pat American from Zurich on 30 year-old bail-jumping and sexual misconduct charges before the door was closed on his cell; and is now officially a political hot-potato encompassing the entertainment biz, gender, class, family-values, culutre-clash and other “pet issues” of the Chattering Class. Being the weekend, the opinions of Mssrs. O’Reilly, Beck and Grace have yet to be heard from, but all edges of the Web are already well spoken-for. Let’s see who’s taking a swing:

First up, “Big Hollywood,” Andrew Breitbart’s nominally-conservative-psuedo-celebrity wildlife preserve. You probably know Breitbart most-recently as the guy shepherding the two kids from the ACORN Video through the media cycle. BH is basically a multi-contributor editorial blog wherein right-leaning movie people vent about their left-leaning industry, making it something of a kind of one-stop-shopping-spot for people you forgot existed doing their best Michael Savage impression. First reporting on the Polanski story from there fell to the site’s Editor in Chief, John Nolte; previously launched to Internet Celebrity as “Dirty Harry” from the now-defunct Liberty Film Festival Blog. The site is literally CRAWLING with nutcases, but Nolte is a straight-shooter who can be counted on to be as fair as one can be while still writing what are fundamentally opinion-pieces. He comes down solidly on the “no excuses, bring him back, lets have the trial” side, but with characteristic lack of hyperbole:

Pretty cut and dry, right? Okay, now just for fun, here’s some samplings of the commentary that’s been offered up in response by the site’s readership:

“I predict that Obama will pardon him at the urging of Bill Clinton.”

“Some days it really does seem that the counter revolution is finally happening.”

“The degenerates of Hollywood finance the coalition of scum, slime, filth, vermin and manure that run the Democ-rat Party.”

“Woody Allen, anyone?”

*Sigh.* This is the problem with people for whom political-leanings define their existance: Nothing is outside the realm of left-vs-right, everything MUST be made to benefit one end to the exclusion of another. The questions at hand are, from where I sit, transpolitical: Either he ought be punished or ought not be, either there are mitigating circumstances or there aren’t. By cynically framing Polanski’s supporters as automatic agents of “the left” and his probable conviction as a cause for “the right;” it cheapens the issue and serves only to score the minor “culture war” victory of forcing “the left” to defend him for fear of ALLOWING said victory.

From the other side (in multiple senses) in this piece of Huffington Post; still struggling to find a reason for it’s own existance in a world without the Bush Administration. Interestingly, this particular defense comes from the co-founder of Women Overseas for Equality – a potential irony not lost on a slew of the responders:

And these are just the “amateurs”…

Wanted, Desired, Caught

In case you were nervous that 2009 was going to close without a big “Hollywood Values vs. Reg’ler Amrrrrc’n Values” dustup in the media, worry not. Roman Polanski has been arrested:

Short version, for the younger readers: Polanski plead guilty to a statutory rape charge in the 1970s (the girl in question was 13, drugs and alcohol were involved). So goes the story, he’d worked out a plea-agreement with the judge and prosecutors by which he’d recieve a time-served sentence for 1 charge of unlawful intercourse. Polanski claims to have discovered that the judge – who’s since passed away and was the subject of ethical complaints relating to this case for decades – was apparently planning to “surprise” the media-sensation trial by reneging and hitting him with a much more serious sentence. The director’s response was to skip bail and flee America for France, who’s extradition treaties with the U.S. do not cover the laws he’s accused of breaking. That was more than 30 years ago. Polanski has continued to work steadily, recieving an Oscar for “The Pianist” recently, and has sought return to the U.S. on several occasions either by requesting a mistrial or a dismissal. He’s been joined in those requests by his then-victim, who has said she wants the ordeal to be done with. However, the Los Angeles prosecutor’s office has remained steadfast in saying that if he enters the U.S. they plan to arrest him and put him on trail again, this time for fleeing the original sentence.

Yesterday, Polanski entered Switzerland – which evidently DOES have the proper extradition treaties with the U.S. – to attend a retrospective of his work at the Zurich Film Festival. Swiss police were waiting at the airport, having recieved a request for arrest from U.S. authorities to assist them, and arrested him for the outstanding charges. He is now detained, awaiting the outcome of extradition deliberations. He is allowed to appeal the arrest in Switzerland, but a likely outcome as of this moment is him being sent back to the U.S. to face whatever is waiting. The third player in this, France, is already coming to his defense and chastising the Swiss government.

Unless the French manage to “roll” the Swiss on this one, this becomes a BIG deal. People have been waiting to “have this one out” for a long time; and the image of a guilty statutory-rapist living luxuriously abroad (in France no less!!!) whilst The Industry largely campaigns for his release and rewards him with Oscars has made this case a favorite whipping-boy for the media-critic arm of the “values voters” contingent. Set aside, for a moment, your personal feelings about the case and just think about that particular firestorm-in-waiting. You think this event isn’t a GODSEND to them? They get to “fight” ‘liberal’ Hollywood AND ‘godless’ Europe. Nancy Grace is salivating like a rapid bassett hound as we speak…

Should be interesting.

Waylon Smithers to shit solid-gold brick

According to Variety, Universal has made a deal with Mattel for a live-action “Barbie” movie:

No matter what else comes of it, this will almost certainly be the film with the widest gulf between how interesting it’s development is versus how interesting it could ever be to watch. They never really felt the need to give this franchise a “narrative” (that I know of… ladies? Am I correct as to this?) so the question of “WTF is a movie of this even about?” is more paramount than even for also-optioned stuff like “Battleship” or “Monopoly.”

Seriously: Turn off the “this is stupid” instinct for a minute and consider what the people who have to hammer a MOVIE out of this are in for. Is this a movie about this “character” as an actual person? In which case, is it actually a movie about a 5’9, 36-18-33 blonde with seemingly unlimited wealth and about 500 full-time careers? In which case… wouldn’t the ONLY way that’d work be to make it something akin to a spoof? Even if so, Mattel isn’t likely to let that be the direction – they guard the Barbie brand about as jealously as you’d guard an ACTUAL woman with those measurements. On the other hand, if it WAS a spoof it’d be an eerily perfect vehicle for Anna Faris (if it was a parody) or Jessica Simpson (if it was a comedy and they feel like going straight-to-DVD.)

That is, of course, assuming they want a major star – they might go looking for an unknown. Dear God, can you IMAGINE an open casting-call for “Barbie?” I picture a MASSIVE line of statuesque blonde women in wonderbras and heels wrapped around six blocks in downtown LA. And y’know what? People will be PAID to conduct those auditions. PAID!

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Sometimes I know a movie is going to be good right away. This is one of those times, impending-goodness being announced early on when a wonderfully “real”-sounding kindergartener responds to his father’s awkward narrow-frame-of-reference advice with an exaseperated cry of “I DON’T UNDERSTAND FISHING METAPHORS!!!” After that, I knew my afternoon was not about to be wasted.

There’s a justifiable trepidation among many filmgoers about stopping in for a CG-Animated movie NOT bearing the “Pixar” stamp… you just never know if you’re going to get an “Ice Age” (the first one) or a “Shark Tale.” Well, if my word counts for anything, I reccomend that fans of animated comedy (or comedy in general) set said trepidation aside and give “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs” a look. It’s not aiming for the philosophical heft of a “Wall-E,” but it’s ALSO not wallowing in an ocean of cheap pop-culture-reference laughs. What we have here is a capital-F-Fun slapstick epic – a broad spoof of natural disaster blockbusters (particular the Roland Emmerich variety) bouncing around in the guise of an extraordinarily well-animated family comedy. I’m actually at a loss to describe the exact “type” of manic comedy on display, but the closest comparison I can think of is to opine that fans of the Spielberg-produced “big jokes for the kids, little jokes for the grownups” animated comedies of the 90s like Animaniacs and ESPECIALLY the late, lamented Freakazoid will feel RIGHT at home.

The whole enterprise is, technically, inspired by a well-regarded 1978 children’s book; a good-natured morality-play in which the citizens of a town where food falls from the sky grow weary of culinary ease (plus the food is starting to get too big) and discover the greater joys of self-sufficiency. The FILM sets itself up mostly as a prequel, explaining how the phenomenon happened and why it ultimately stopped. Short version: Wacky inventor Flint Lockwood accidentally launches his miracle water-into-food converted into the stratosphere, resulting in periodic foodstorms that his struggling island town’s corrupt mayor tries to turn into a publicity machine. Of course, things fly out of control and Flint and his friends are forced to undertake a dangerous mission to shut down the machine before mankind is wiped out by an apocalypse of oversized foodstuffs.

The plain fact is, it’s just a well-made movie. The filmmakers wisely realize that the imaginatively-rendered “foodscapes” (an entire suburb burried in a “snowstorm” of ice cream scoops, a spaghetti tornado, a flotilla of sandwich-boats with pizza-slice sails, a massive fortune cookie crashing down on the Great Wall of China with a helpful prediction about the subsequent impact of a giant corn cob, etc.) are sufficient to generate visual interest and sight-gags without having to “stop for the jokes;” so we wind up with a lot of solidly-realized characters and well-explored relationships amid all the gorgeous tableaus. Flint’s difficult relationship with his luddite dad and his creepy seduction by the town’s oily Mayor (BRUCE CAMPBELL!!!) hit exactly the right notes; and his budding romance with a nerd-in-disguise weather girl is sweet in a way most live-action romcoms would kill to be.

It also understands that the key to a successful SPOOF is not what you make fun of, but what you DON’T. Accepting and even CELEBRATING the genuine appeal of Bruckheimer-style action scenes is what helped Team America soar, while Young Frankenstein wears it’s affection for the Universal Horrors it’s mocking on it’s sleeve. “Cloudy” has it’s fun with disaster movie conventions (a weatherman glibly notes the “odd” circumstance of the foodstorm “attacking” the world’s most recognizable monuments BEFORE everything else…) and general movie tropes (during the innevitable “mob attacks man in car but never tries to break a window” scene, a character helpfully calls out “Let’s rock his car back and forth!!!”) but it also takes pains to play it’s action beats “straight”… at least as straight as you can in a movie about giant food falling from the sky. An extended bit where a policeman (a fantastic Mr. T) makes a superhuman dash through the foodstorm to rescue his wife and son is an unapologetic stand-up-and-cheer hero moment – giant Dorito and all – while Flint and company’s assault on the (now self-aware) “eye” of the foodstorm is a legitimately thrilling combination “Death Star” air-raid and dungeon-crawl that any live action blockbuster ought to be envious of.

This movie, let’s face it, wasn’t exactly on any discerning cineastes “must see” list; but in terms of animated family-comedy it’s almost a perfect example of the genre. I’m not saying you should skip “The Informant!” in favor of this, but if you find yourself in the position of watching it I can safely say I don’t think you’ll be dissapointed.

"The Blind Side"

Embedded below, the trailer for “The Blind Side,” an upcoming Sandra Bullock vehicle which I’m informed is “based on an inspiring true story” and from the looks of things is primed-and-ready to be the White People Feeling Good About Themselves film of the year…

Yeesh. “True” or not, it literally looks like someone snatched up all the most maudlin and irritating parts of various disposable feel-good films from the last decade and slapped together a “movie.” Going by the trailer, it’s the story of homeless, emotionally-withdrawn, gargantuan black teenager (think John Coffey meets Antwone Fisher) who is able to right his life only after being scooped up off the side of the road (literally, like he’s a stray puppy or something) by a family of rich white people overseen by Bullock as an all-additude matriarch in the Erin Brokovich vein. They teach him how to sleep in a bed, go to school and play football real good; he teaches them… life lessons… about… stuff. (“yer changin’ that boy’s life!” “No… he’s changin’ MINE.” Are you FUCKING kidding me!!??)

Dontcha just LOVE that one bit with Bullock’s character getting the “talking-to” about her adoptee being beyond help by the older black woman presumably of some relation to him? Arentcha just gonna LOVE the way the film will ultimately be about proving her wrong and vindicating Bullock’s ability to “save” him with the simple application of all the extra money and time her higher social-standing have afforded her? And how about that bit with Bullock marching up to the scary gangbangers and “tellin’ `em the score?”

I’m told this is a true story, and that the guy actually got drafted by the NFL this year. If so, good for him. Doesn’t mean the movie doesn’t look like crap 😉

spoiler of the year?

I’m largely prevented by various obligations from officially “reviewing” movies I see before they come out, but I’m pretty sure it’s okay to just talk about various upcoming movies in nonspecific terms COMPLETELY unrelated to whether or not it’s good.

In which case, please take note of the following: If someone begins to try and tell you about “the most awesomest thing EVER in ‘Zombieland!!!,” you should knock that person out with a shovel before they can finish that sentence. Just trust me on this one.

Escape to the Movies: "Jennifer’s Body"

Be honest, you kinda saw this coming…


Incidentally, my screening was preceeded by a trailer for something called “Transylmania,” which – despite what you may assume (as I did) from the evidence at hand – is apparently an actual thing:

So who exactly was it that was crying-out for “This Generation’s Transylvania 6-5000?” A little research tells me this is apparently the third sequel to the direct-to-DVD “National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze” franchise, which I guess has some sort of following I wasn’t aware of?

What am I not getting here?

Is it wrong that I don’t know WHY everyone is so horrified by the Kurt Cobain avatar in Guitar Hero 5? Or rather, more precisely, the fact that you can actually use it like ALL THE OTHER celebrity-rocker avatars in this series – i.e. to perform songs you’d never see them have done in reality?

I both love and am utterly perplexed by the abject DISGUST people are registering at the idea of CGI-Kurt shown performing music that’s somehow “beneath” Nirvana’s mythic heights. Granted, yes, I was never a grunge fan or an especially big appreciator of Nirvana (I’m still actively hoping that by the time it’s been long enough to matter Nirvana will end up being remembered as “Dave Grohl’s first Band”); but even if I were I’d like to think I’d STILL be sick to death at this point of Cobain’s special-status as the “last thing my generation was supposed to take seriously.” Fuck that, at this point.

There are LOTS of dead people CGI’ing their way through the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games, many of whom died more tragically and/or had more actual lasting influence on music than Cobain did. Hendrix has been in GH for what, 2 games now? 3? Johnny Cash is in this one as well, also recently-dead. Hell, there’s TWO dead people out of FOUR in “Beatles: Rock Band,” one of whom was assassinated as opposed to… well, you get the idea. Get over it, already.