Tag Archives: Jordan and Eddie

Special Edition Trailers of the Week — Aussie Rules

by Gabriel Valdez

There were a few fantastic trailers from Australia and New Zealand this week that I didn’t want to get lost in our regular edition, especially because this next film just became my most anticipated:

PREDESTINATION
Trailer #2

Here’s the thing about Predestination. It’s based on a Robert Heinlein short story about a time traveler who descends from himself…by impregnating himself before a sex change.

The trailer doesn’t breathe a word of this, but if you know the material, you can see it strongly hinted. Perhaps the film just uses the Heinlein name and the time travel concept. Even if that’s true, it still looks like a visually arresting thriller.

BUT! And this might be the biggest “but” in film history – if it addresses Heinlein’s concept in any way (and I wouldn’t put it past Ethan Hawke to tackle it), we are in for a hell of an ambitious film.

Heinlein’s short story “All You Zombies” is a stunning mindbender about a man who creates his entire lineage using temporal paradoxes. In the time it was written, it was an important and challenging metaphor for the struggles of the transgendered, and made readers feel real emotion for a character they might have ridiculed were he a real person standing before them.

Predestination might just be a time travel noir using the barest framework of Heinlein’s story. But if it’s not…oh boy, if it’s not, if it’s true to Heinlein, it’s one of the most difficult – and potentially most important – film adaptations ever tackled.

THE DEAD LANDS
Trailer #1

I’m a big fan of action films about indigenous peoples, because you know what? Indigenous peoples had action franchises, too. Occasionally, a film like this is exploitative, but a surprising amount of the time there’s a real passion and dedication that goes into presenting these societies in detail, and proudly.

The Dead Lands is being produced by the same group that financed Indonesia’s two The Raid movies – the best action franchise of the past decade – and they have a habit of trusting their talent and giving them the means to try out crazy ideas more traditional studios wouldn’t go near.

This means a lot in the countries of Oceania, where there isn’t exactly a lot of money for original filmmaking in the first place. Needless to say, I’m eagerly anticipating a stylish New Zealand action movie that – hopefully – is both respectful and revealing of Maori storytelling culture. After all, we get to hear stories from the perspectives of indigenous peoples far too rarely.

THE MULE
Trailer #1

A movie about how long it takes a man to go to the bathroom. Wait, wait! It’s more complicated. You see, he has drugs in his stomach, he’s being detained by the authorities led by Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, Captain America), and he’s being stalked by the drug dealer he’s late in meeting, played by John Noble (Fringe, Sleepy Hollow). He’s cooped up in a small, Melbourne hotel room while a legal aide tries to get him free and his family turns increasingly dramatic.

It looks like a blistering, uncomfortable comedy with some truly intense moments to it, the kinds of comedies Australia does with a brutal sense of just how to make you laugh out of discomfort.

That’s our special Down Under roundup this week. By the way, if you’re looking for more news and reviews on Australian film, I highly recommend my own go-to source, Jordan and Eddie. They’re two young Australian critics who are fantastic reads.

Wednesday Collective — Acts of Killing, Vivian Kubrick, Women Critics, BBC Cuts, & Werewolves

(Apologies! Some of the links got messed up when this first posted. They are all fixed now – enjoy!)

I’ve been asked a couple of times if I’m doing any sort of Oscar review. Nope. My Movies We Loved in 2013 post was my personal Oscars, composed of the opinions of the creative minds that I call friends and mentors.

All I’ll say about the Oscars themselves (a week late) is that I’m very happy for Lupita, a graceful and talented representative for my alma mater. On the subject of Hampshire College, another alum, Jonathan Kitzen, saw a film he co-produced, “The Lady in Number 6,” win best documentary short.

The Lady in Number 6

Other than that, I’ll say that Ellen was a thoroughly pleasant host, but my dream telecast is still Hugh Laurie and the Muppets.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
“Yesterday I Met a Man Who Has Killed a Lot of People”

This isn’t about movies per se, but it is about our interest in stories. Many of the stories told in our country today concern war and death. Military and postapocalyptic narratives are popular in film, television, books, and video games. The Loquacionist’s article is a brief and beautiful reflection on hearing one such story from a person who lived it.

CO-ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
The Critical Fight over The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing

I’d like to suggest, much as a group of fish is called a school and a group of crows is called a murder, that a group of critics be called a kerfuffle. The Act of Killing is a documentary in which dictators and generals are asked to face the massacres and genocides they carried out in decades past by re-enacting them. I haven’t seen it yet, but it is by many accounts a masterpiece of cinema. Filmmaker Magazine posted an excellent write-up on the generational fight between critics and the debates over theory amongst documentary filmmakers that have formed in support of and against The Act of Killing. It may have been too feel-bad to win the Oscar for Best Documentary, but I’m fairly certain it will be the doc we talk about most for years to come.

Vivian Kubrick’s Twitter

Vivian Kubrick

Vivian Kubrick, daughter of Stanley Kubrick, has been posting never-before-seen photos of her father’s productions, ranging from A Clockwork Orange to The Shining to Full Metal Jacket, on which she composed the score. Not only are they deeply personal photos, but they also reveal hints of a childhood spent amidst terrifying and magical cinematic playgrounds most of us can only visit 3 hours at a time.

Can Women Save Criticism?

Susan Sontag

This is an interesting piece over at IndieWire. Women certainly need a larger role in the critical community. The title is a lead-in to a greater argument over the evaluative nature of criticism. What I can speak to here, and what I’ve written before, is that criticism has reached a state of perpetual navel-gazing. Criticism is too often mistaken for a critique. I’ll allow myself the occasional “300 Sequel Sucks” review when a movie isn’t just bad but morally wrong, but it shouldn’t be my job to decide whether something is good or bad. That means too many different things to too many different people. It should be a critic’s job to help guide people to the movies they’ll most enjoy by clarifying, concentrating, and amplifying a movie’s deeper purpose or message. My idea of a perfect “review” is something you can read through a different lens before and after you see a film. Beforehand, it should shed light on whether it’s the kind of film you might enjoy. Afterward, that same review ought to be a stepping stone toward discussing a film’s deeper meanings. A good review should have the passion of a work of art put into it, the same passion as a poem or story or a movie itself might have.

Anyway, I’m not qualified to speak to a woman’s experience in criticism, but I can say that it’s my view that film criticism as a whole needs to be taken over by a more engaging, less cynical perspective.

The BBC Makes Cuts

Matt Smith angry

The BBC faced a choice between cutting its youth channel BBC3, featuring shows like Little Britain and Being Human, and cutting funding for shows like Sherlock and Doctor Who. If they chose the former, it would be the first channel cut in their 80-year history. If they chose the latter, it would mean the end of their most popular show at home and their two most popular shows abroad. What do you think they chose?

Of Werewolves and Men

The Company of Wolves

On a lighter note, my favorite critics Down Under, Jordan and Eddie, put together a list you typically don’t see everyday – the top 10 werewolf films of all time. I’m glad to see such films as the underseen Dog Soldiers and Neil Jordan’s classic allegory The Company of Wolves featured on this list.

Wednesday Collective…Blue is the Warmest Color – Gravity – Thor: The Dark World

I figure it’s time for another regular series. Tuesday is the day that new movies come out on DVD and Blu-ray, and Wednesday is the day we remember that. Maybe it’s because that’s when the week’s work-to-enjoyment ratio starts flipping in our favor. If you have to work the weekend, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe reading about the Soviet calendar will make you feel better.

Every week, I’ll collect the best articles from here and others on this week’s new releases for home viewing. A link for each excerpt takes you to the full article…click away, and bring the internet a little closer together!

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
Blue is the Warmest Color

Blue is the Warmest Color

If Blue is the Warmest Color didn’t dominate the international festival circuit, it at least took over the media coming out of it. The NC-17 film about two women who fall in love took the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and, for the first time, the award was also given not just to the director, but to the film’s two actors.

Over at Camera Obscura, film theorist Alessia Palanti felt strongly about it, too: “Kechiche’s genius is that he deceivingly gives the audience the answer to the, by now, nauseatingly predictable question: ‘What do women do in bed?’ It is as if the Cannes award justified this kind of fetishism. And I ask myself if anyone stopped to consider their source: a heterosexual male director. If sexual explicitness is what credits the film’s ‘daring’ and (by god), ‘revolutionary’ quality (i.e. standing as a new mascot for LGBT, and specifically the ‘L’ community), then the notion of daring and revolutionary have been lost. It offends truly courageous cinematic endeavors…”

BRILLIANT, BUT DOES IT CONNECT?
Gravity

Gravity a

It almost never happens that a science-fiction movie stands a good shot at winning Best Picture. If you’re still wondering why Gravity, the story of an astronaut stranded in orbit, is one of the few, you’re in luck – nearly everyone wrote about it.

Blu-ray Downlow has a thorough write-up on the – you guessed it – Blu-ray release: “None of this sounds terribly different from any number of the other space films that have come out of Hollywood in the past, but Alfonso Cuaron’s direction and Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography take the film into uncharted territory. The film’s aesthetics bring to mind Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the story itself is more digestible to a mainstream audience.”

Erin Snyder at The Middle Room offered a unique take, comparing Gravity to a ride as much as a movie. “It’s definitely pushing boundaries. This has elements from video games, amusement park rides, and – yes – films. As such, it doesn’t deliver everything we’re used to getting from a movie, but instead gives us something a bit different.” He added, “There’s very little here that would survive being viewed at home.” The previews on my laptop still make me catch my breath, so I might be in the minority on that one.

Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys) are a pair of Australian bloggers who each raved about it, but did have issues with the story itself. “This is dazzling filmmaking and a journey you can’t afford to miss,” wrote Jordan. “However, whilst it is impossible to fault it on a production level…there is one area in which it is unfortunately left wanting: lasting emotional connection.” Eddie was more forgiving: “It could be any range of things from script conveniences through to some misguided character driven scenes, but really these are slight missteps in a movie universe that is totally and enthrallingly enjoyable for every last minute of its running time.”

I felt more connected to it and enjoyed it beyond the thrill ride level. “I can’t remember rooting for a character so hard, not just wanting but needing Bullock’s Stone to make it through. It’s not because she’s special or heroic. She is certainly those things, but it’s because she responds so very much like the rest of us. Her impossible tasks may happen in space, but her hopelessness and frustration feel just like yours and mine.”

SHARING THE SAME QUALITIES AS A LAVA LAMP
Thor: The Dark World

Thor 2 Brothers

Thor: The Dark World, Marvel’s 8th movie in their Avengers universe, also comes out on home release today. Coincidentally, it’s the 8th time the Earth must be saved in as many movies.

The Middle Room’s Erin Snyder succinctly summed up something many of us are feeling. “I was about ready to write this one off when a funny thing happened. About forty minutes in, Loki stole the whole damn movie.”

I was similarly frustrated by the film. Funny enough, I couldn’t help but compare it to a B-movie Erin had introduced me to years earlier. “There’s a scene in Hudson Hawk, a 1991 action parody starring Bruce Willis, in which the hero leaps off a building. He survives by crashing through a roof and falling directly into the next scene. Everything continues without missing a beat. This is how Thor: The Dark World is written.”

What’s This? What’s This? There’s Color Everywhere

I’ve been reconnecting with my love for Scandinavian pop this week, so the inaugural Music Video of the Week is “The Drummer” by Niki and the Dove.