Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Movie News: Spike Lee to Direct Oldboy Remake?

In case you didn't know, there has been an American English language remake of Oldboy in the works for the past couple of years.  Steven Spielberg was attached to direct the remake a couple of years ago with Will Smith attached to star.  Luckily and thankfully that project fell apart after some rights issues got in the way. Film geeks thought the project was forever stuck in development hell after that news broke, but Twitch is now reporting that Spike Lee is the frontrunner to direct the film now.

Spike Lee has been struggling to get his films made lately so this makes sense in a commercial sense for him.  I think that Lee is definitely more of apt choice than Spielberg is, but I just wish that there wasnt a remake in the works at all.  It will now be interesting to see who Lee lines up to star in his film and how it will differ from the original South Korean film.

I can't recommend the original film enough in case you haven't seen it yet.  It is one of the bleakest revenge films ever made with some of the most cynical plot twists.  On top of this, the film also holds a number of truly amazing sequences.  The one take hallway fight scene deserves every bit of love it gets and it's easy to see why the scene became an instant classic.

What do you guys think about Spike Lee directing an Oldboy remake?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday's Trailer: Tremors (1990, Ron Underwood)

Tremors is one of those movies that I rewatched a ton as a kid and that, in my opinion, still holds up incredibly well now.  The premise is fun (alien maneating worms that sense any vibration on the earth's surface) and the mixture of horror/comedy/action is handled extremely well. I also love that all of the effects are done practically and that they still hold up until thix day 21 years later.  Plus, I'm pretty sure that this is the only movie where you can see Reba McEntire as a gun enthusiast who gets a kick out of blowing up giant alien worms.

It's a really fun movie and you can check out the trailer below. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day

Happy 4th of July everyone! 

Today is the day that we celebrate our independence, drink beers, bbq, and then watch stuff blow up.  I hope you all have a lot of fun today.  In honor of the holiday I have selected one of the most patriotic moments in all of film history. 

Go to This!: E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind @ The New Beverly

My favorite theater in all of Southern California is easily The New Beverly over here by La Brea.  The theater constantly programs GREAT double features for the low price of $7 a ticket.  The audience is always passionate, the popcorn is delicious, and the people who work there are extreme film geeks.  It truly is an awesome place.

They will be doing a double feature of two of Spielberg's best films next week on July 10th and 11th with E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and I bet both films will be great to see on the big screen with a packed audience.  I'm assuming that everyone reading this blog has seen both films already so I won't waste time telling you why both of them are considered true classics.

You can click here to buy your tickets. I'll probably be seeing you there!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Film Journal: Monterey Pop (1968, D.A. Pennebaker)

Director D.A. Pennebaker's (Don't Look Back) documentary about the 1967 Monterey Pop Music Festival is a true snapshot of the hippie culture.  Not only is the music of the subculture heavily featured but Pennebaker also spends just as much time focusing his camera on the people in the audience as they groove along to the various music acts while looking like "cliche hippies."  It's a pretty incredible portrait of this long gone generation, but it also is a mixed bag for me.

I simply don't get a lot of these music acts and Pennebaker's camera does not cut away for minutes at a time as these abstract rock bands jam out for minutes and minutes to no end.  This makes a certain performance go from cool, to interesting, to boring quickly.  I could tolerate this a little bit, but when I am on minute 7 of a 10 minute sitar solo I start to want to check my watch.

Having said that, some of these performances are absolutely incredible to watch.  The two performances that really stand out for me are Janis Joplin and Ottis Redding's performances.  It's easy to see why both musicians are now considered legends after you see how much they really stand out next to such big name acts like The Who or even Jimi Hendrix.

Speaking of Hendrix - it's also really cool to finally see his iconic performance of Wild Thing where he ends the song by burning his guitar before smashing it to pieces in context.  There really is a unique presence when he is on screen.

Rating: B

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Go to This!: The Last Waltz & Monterey Pop @ The Aero Theater

I know this blog is very, very young and that this is very last minute, but I just wanted to give a shout out to this double feature that is going down tonight in Santa Monica, California.  I plan on this becoming a regular feature with me giving more heads up to great screenings that happen around Southern California.

Anyway, if you have never watched Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz then you are really missing out on the most cinematic concert film ever made.  It helps if you are a fan of some of the music featured in the film, but you don't have to be a fan of the music to at least admire the filmmaking going on through out the film.  It's truly mindblowing when you realize that Scorsese only had one night and one chance to capture all of it. 

The one thing I really love about the film apart from the filmmaking is how Scorsese was able to capture the joy that can be found in friends just playing music together.  The smiles and little moments between each band member as they rock out to their greatest hits with their friends is what really makes the film stand out among other concert films. 

The film has a lot of great moments and performances but this is easily the film's most famous song and definitely one of the best parts of the film. I really can't recommend this film enough.

I've actually never seen Monterey Pop but I (and probably you too) know the film's truly iconic moment.  I'm looking forward to finally checking it out and I'm glad that I will be seeing it for the first time on the big screen.

You can click here to buy tickets.

Film Journal: The Adjustment Bureau (2011. George Nolfi)

The Adjustment Bureau is a frustrating film.  It is a good film that had the potential to be a great film.  It's a film that is always engaging and entertaining due to its sci-fi premise and the film's romantic plot gives the film a sense of urgency and tension.  It's also helpful that every actor turns in a solid performance and that the film's climatic unique chase sequence is memorable because all of these things combine help hide a lot of the film's flaws.

Matt Damon plays a politician named David who is on the eve of winning an election when he bumps into a ballerina named Elise (Emily Blunt).  The pair immediately feel some chemistry going on between them and everything seems like it is going to go well for them until David realizes that members of a secret orginization are going to try their hardest to control their fates and tear them apart.

The film is based on a short story by author Phillip K. Dick, who is best known for writing the source materials for such classic mindbending films as Blade Runner and Total Recall, and the premise of the film is easily its greatest strength.  The idea that there is a secret organization who are in charge of controlling everyone's destiny and fate is a fascinating one and the film is at its best when the idea/premise are brought up and explored a bit. 

Sadly the who idea of "Are we really in control of our own lives?" isn't explored enough when it really easily could've been.  The scenes where David also confronts these agents and starts asking them questions are also filled with clunky exposition and it's annoying to watch a film where a character decides to run circles around a question that he could easily answer in order to give the film a sense of mystery.

The film's biggest flaw though is in its ending.  At a certain point in the film you begin to wonder how the film is going to pull off its ending since the film's premise is so "out there" and the way they do it is incredibly weak.  The ending is almost a text book example of a screenwriter using a deus ex machina plot device to get himself out of the hole that he buried himself in through out the film.  You know it's a bad sign when a film ends with a character explaining the film's conclusion to you and the lead cahracter.

Having sad that, The Adjustment Bureau really is a solid film.  The balance between a romantic drama and a science fiction film is well handled and Damon and Blunt's bring a level of charisma and chemistry to their roles that really elevates the film.  There is also a certain thing involving doors that can be passageways to other places that is very cool to watch and the film's final moments involving a foot chase while using these doors is a legitimately excellent action sequence. It's just a shame that the film never really truly comes together despite having so many good parts floating around.

Rating: B-