Ever have a regret? Chris Richardson has one: a valedictory address at university that turned out to be an embarrassment, not a proud memory. It sparked an exploration into the theme of regret, and into a documentary of the same name. (You may remember Chris' last film, Where's My Goat?)
Years before he began directing films (and he was rather young when that career started), Stanley Kubrick had been taking photographs around New York City, developing an eye for the visually striking and learning how to compose a frame.
I was surprised and rather flattered to have been asked to be among a group called the "Reel Men" - a set of St. John's fellows who are all wearing a shirt and scarf promoting the upcoming St. John's International Women's Film Festival.
Everything launches on Tuesday, and the city will be filled with screenings. It's easily one of the key events of the arts calendar in St. John's. Check it all out here.
It’s hard to believe now, but for many years summer time was the dead zone in the movie industry. In the age before air-conditioning, a summer night’s out at the movies often meant going to the drive-in, and the fare there? Well, the trashier, the better.
But since Jaws and successive blockbusters, this is the time of year when the most exciting (and definitely not necessarily the best) movies come out.
This week’s web column celebrates popcorn season with a spate of sites all about the movies.
Body Counters “We count bodies, so you don’t have to” is the working motto of this site, which scores (if that’s the right word) the number of deaths that appear in specific movies. For some popcorn junkies, that’s a key indicator – not of quality, but the likelihood they can check their brain at the door, kick back and relax.
Cin-o-matic Here you’ll find a list of new and upcoming releases, presented in a table stacked with data: a numerical summary of critical reviews, ratings, run times, release dates, and so on. Best option: you can customize your own lists.
Roger Ebert on Twitter The world’s most famous film critic may have lost his ability to speak aloud, but Ebert is far from silent. He’s still writing, daily, and some of his funniest lines are released through Twitter. Look also for links to blog posts and published work.
Movie Brain This iTunes app – designed for the iPhone, but it works on an iPad, too – is like taking a database into the videostore. A web connection is not necessary, which is a bonus if you’re watching your minutes or have a wifi-enabled device. Look up titles, get instant information on the cast, and sample what others (including the Rotten Tomatoes critics’ aggregator) have to say about a movie … before you plunk down a penny to see it. Search for it in iTunes; it costs just two bucks.
Rotten Tomatoes Speaking of which, this venerable site is still going strong. Its value comes from consensus, of sorts, by sifting through multiple sources to get an idea of whether a movie is good or not. I’ve found it a pretty good guide through the years.
Imax Almost 20 years ago, I saw an Imax movie for the first time (Blue Planet, a documentary on the planet, filmed from the unique views of space shuttles), and it was a transcending experience. I’ve made a point of seeking out Imax movies when I travel. I have a dream that St. John’s may one day get one of those vast theatres; in the meantime, the official site is a bit of a peek into what we’re missing.
Ferdy on Films If the clout of film critics has waned through the years, there’s nonetheless some terrific writing online. This is one place where you’ll find solid, informed criticism.
DVD Verdict DVD Verdict takes its title pretty seriously, with subheadings like “the facts of the case” and “the evidence” laid out for each, um, case. Yes, it can get a little grating, but the sheer volume of content is worth keeping this one around.
Internet Movie Script Database IMDB, or the Internet Movie Database, is a key entertainment reference; IMSDB is more than just adding a letter. It collects scripts of numerous movies and posts them here. Other than raising a copyright flag, I’d point hardcore fans here, just so they can immerse themselves.
Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics Ever seen a movie where an assassin with a silencer fires a weapon and it goes “fut-fut.” Sounds familiar, right? And, well, not at all possible. The title of this site gives away its point of view on explosions, lasers and whatnot. It’s interesting stuff, but the design is insultingly tough on the eyes.
Our boy is really curious to see the adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, the much-delayed (it was shot almost three years ago) film by Spike Jonze. It's the not the first attempt, though. In the early 1980s, John Lasseter - who would go on to cofound Pixar (and run Disney) - helped with a digital mockup for the backgrounds of a film version that never came to be.
Below is World Builder, a short film that has become an internet sensation in the last couple of weeks. As of Monday, it had been viewed a million times online in just a couple of weeks ... which says something about how videos can get passed around online. Filmmaker Bruce Branit, who shot the live action sequences in a single day and then spent two years on the dazzling post-production work he wanted to show to the world, sent World Builder to various festivals, with evidently little success.
The web, though, has made it a phenomenon. If you have eight or so minutes, take a look. It's beautiful to watch, but it has a lot of heart, too, with a story that's as much about love as it is about virtual reality.
I'm really looking forward to Quantum of Solace, the upcoming Bond movie; I always anticipate them, but not like lately. Casino Royale was the best Bond movie I've seen in theatres. (My favourites - a few Connerys, and of course On Her Majesty's Secret Service - came out before I was old enough to buy my own popcorn, as it were.) Mark Kermode bitches enough about it here, though, to take the air out of my imported tires. (I hope he's wrong.)
Update: A friend sends this link to a review in the Australian; this reviewer quite liked it.
Justin Long - the laid-back Mac to John Hodgman's button-down PC in those ubiquitous Apple ads - is not just a pitchman; he's been in movies for a decade or so. Live Free or Die Hard takes him to another level of celebrity. The teaser (the above frame was lifted from it) didn't reveal much about his role or the plot, but promised lots of bangs, blams and totally logical explosions involving four-way car collisions topped off by a dropping vehicle ... with the protagonists, of course, surviving. The trailer has more detail. Yep, I'll be there, scarfing back the popcorn, rolling my eyes, and having a great time.
You learn new things every day - like the existence of the Softie Awards. Or even the existence of "softies," which evidently are hand-crafted textiles that generally are kind of cute; the awards have a functional category, and here's the one that made me laugh out loud:
"You must never say never and I'm certainly not saying never but I think it's highly unlikely that I'll want to play the character again. I think we've done all we can reasonably expect to achieve."
I recall reading that Mr. Bean is one of the most successful TV series worldwide, for one very good reason: it was almost entirely silent, which made it easy to play in any language. I was a bit disappointed with the first film; maybe the second will be more satisfying.
Filmgoers in the U.K. and at least Australia will see Mr. Bean's Holiday later this month. Here in Canada, we're tied to an American release date of late September. The trailer is here. In the meantime, you can play some games at the official site.
Since 1995, Annie Liebowitz has done gatefold covers for Vanity Fair's annual Hollywood issue. The series, featuring a slew of ascending and reigning stars, was an interesting idea (and controversial, with a decision to put the first lot of starlets in underwear), but it ran out of steam; last year's cover - with Tom Ford and a nude Kiera Knightley and Scarlett Johansson - was proof enough that good ideas were spent. This year features just four funny guys ... with at least a joke on the inside, with nothing but penguins on the gatefold's turn pages.
On March 2, 1933, a world premiere of King Kong was held in New York City. Despite subsequent remakes - and dazzling advantages in technology, involving Peter Jackson's version - the original still is hard to touch, perhaps because of what it dared to do.
A new teaser for Jerry Seinfeld's upcoming animated film Bee Movie went online a couple of days ago; like a previous one with Chris Rock, it relies on live-action stunts and some celeb appeal (this time, as seen above, it's Steven Spielberg). Fortunately, this one offers a bit of animation, too, although it's just for a few seconds and, frankly, doesn't seem that distinctive. I'm curious to see what the full-blow trailer will look like.
On Feb. 20, 1925, Robert Altman was born. Altman was famous as the ultimate "actor's director," for allowing his casts (often ensembles) remarkable latitude with their performances. He was also - even though he greatly encouraged and indeed relied on improvisation - a writer's director, working with some of the finest screenplays of the last four decades.
Some great Altmanisms: the Last Supper scene from M*A*S*H; the opening tracking shot from The Player, in which one of the various dialogue threads is about great tracking shots; Helen Mirren's revelatory moment in Gosford Park; Annie Ross and Lori Singer in Short Cuts ...
... and on and on. Altman died last November after battling leukemia.
A toy fair recently unveiled some of the items bound to be making their way to aisles all over - or at least to the collectible shelves of the not-necessarily-adult collectors who crave Harry Potter stuff:
As seen here. My son is a Harry Potter fan - he dressed up as Harry for Halloween - but I'm not sure I'd want to, say, get myself a mask so we could play games in the living room ..
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.