Monthly Archives: December 2011


I’m not really sure what I think about how the few screens that have been released for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus: his return (or expansion rather) of the Alien (1979) universe he created nearly thirty years ago.
The details for Prometheus have been closely guarded, and Scott has only really commented that the film will not have so much to do with the Alien series, but that “the keen fan will recognize strands of its DNA”. Being a keen Alien fan myself (and I consider the quadrology as the only salient alien films worth seeing), I’m pretty damn psyched to see a film that at least semi-explains the origins of a film series that I’ve been drooling over since I was in grade 2. 
The only thing that throws me off about the screen captures is how incredibly clean everything looks. I love the dark, industrial, gritty, soot covered world that Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) kicks ass in, and seeing Charlize Theron in a Star Trek Enterprise styled cockpit throws me off. BUT, it is interesting to think of what can be deduced from this bright and fresh looking world that so many years later is eroded to the cloudy prism that is the Alien universe.
It’s late, and I’ve been thinking about Alien too much- been here wayyy too many times before.
I had seen a promotional poster for funny man Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest project The Dictator a while back, and was intrigued to see him taking on a persona that would be a welcomed deviation, or return rather, from those of his most popular films Bruno (2009) and Borat (2006). 
It seems that the world has already forgotten about Cohen’s most noteworthy persona Ali G, and this is strange seeing as Ali G was the character who kicked in the door for the sophisticated satire and play on the ignorance of every day people that has become Cohen’s trademark. Ali G, who first started his debauchery on the UK television series Da Ali G Show had everyone from cabinet members to Posh Spice talking about the most taboo subjects, not through gimmick or confusion, but because of the sheer plausibility of Ali G himself. It is Cohen’s profound talent to literally become his characters that made the quick mouth wannabe gangster Ali G capable of smashing barriers of seriousness with even the most strait faced guests, and Cohen has continued to show his gift’s versatility with the unexpected roles and titles he has acquired throughout the years.
The other characters that Cohen gave us after his Wu-Wearing, FUBU doo-rag donning, weed smoking, sex addicted, Jewish-Rastafarian creation Ali G were not as political in their satirical intent, despite how hard Cohen or the studio powers that be wanted them to seem. The zaney Kazastanian Borat seems to tackle issues of American ignorance and Xenophobia and Bruno does the same in respect to the nation’s homophobic tenancies and ‘can’t take a joke’ sexually conservative mentality, but both of these films are after something different then what Cohen set out to do with his first theatrical satire Ali G Indahouse (2002). Borat and Bruno are both characters whose comical resonance strives less upon the specific comment their interactions with ‘unsuspecting’ interviewees evokes, but rather more upon their own ludicrous behaviour (a failing for anyone who considers themselves a true satirist). Borat didn’t exploit this notion that badly, as Cohen was able to offer a decent mix of story, comical irony (if that’s what you can call two dudes 69ing in thongs), and outrageousness. But Bruno cannot focus upon following even a crazily coherent plot and instead just slings together a series of ridiculous scenarios and gags that show that seven years after Ali G, Cohen’s once unique comical ingenuity may be swaying in the mix of Hollywood’s expectations.
Seeing the trailer for The Dictator seems promising in one respect: Cohen is reverting back to his original obviously staged story telling style of Ali G, instead of sitting comfy in the more pseudo-reality style of Borat and Bruno. Still this trailer didn’t really have any scenes that had me thinking about them afterwards but what the hell as long as its not Cohen in a thong again….

I think I may be watching more films in the theatre than I have this entire year:

(p.s. the stars beside each movie are there to represent how enthusiastic I am to see them, 1 being the least and 4 being the most)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (**)
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (*)
Young Adult (**)
Carnage (***)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (***)
Knuckle (**)
I Melt with You (**)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (****)
The Adventures of Tin Tin (**)
In the Land of Blood and Honey (*)
War Horse (*)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (*)
Pariah (***)

I thought I would leave you all with a trailer that had me laughing in a very FUBAR type of way 

Remember when the term sex addict was only that excuse sleazy married business men used as for why they banged twelve hookers on their kitchen table while their wife was out of town? Thanks to multi millionaire golfers and biker bad boy celebrity-husbands, the issue of sex addiction has lost its taboo status and become a household name in recent years. With that said, it couldn’t have been a better time for Brit experimental artist turned experimental filmmaker Steve Mcqueen to release Shame (2011). After viewing Shame, I immediately thought that this was a film that will undoubtedly divide viewers into two very different camps: those who will find Mcqueen’s lack of restraint in the delivery of his methods an overly obvious exercise; tiring and uninvolved. The other group is comprised of those who can look passed the issue of Mcqueen’s overt autuerism, and find his bleak and downward spiralling vision of one of the most universal of human instincts (the sexual), a tacit and unmistakably devout example of Shame’s dedication to uprooting uninhibited emotions. Fortunately for myself, I was of the latter group, and found Mcqueen’s ‘fill in the blanks’ process an enjoyable and worthwhile experience, both challenging and rewarding.

Shame affords little time for us to  familiarize ourselves with the sexually addicted Brandon’s (Michael Fassbender) world, and instead slings us along at his waist side (quite literally the film opens with torso and penis shots of Brandon as he walks around his condo naked) for an uncomfortable descent into sexual cataclysm. Brandon, a wealthy suit, enjoys the luxuries of being the prototypical New York City single yuppie: a greyly lit high rise art deco condominium, an abundance of alcohol, fine women and an insatiable sexual appetite. It’s between Brandon’s routine jerk off sessions in the bathroom of his work place and the discovery of the ‘smorgasbord of pornography’ on his office computer’s hard drive that the reality of his sex addiction begins to bleed through his smooth, GQ demeanour. When his eclectic hipster sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), unexpectedly shows up in his condo with plans to stay for an unspecified amount of time, Brandon’s sex dictated lifestyle is put in jeopardy. Mcqueen’s genius here is that Shame manages to be all about sex (the signals, the attraction, the act itself) but isn’t concerned with the euphoria of any climax. Instead, Mcqueen shows there is absolutely nothing glamorous about the shallow and wearisome nature of Brandon’s unsatifiable addiction, which Brandon uses as a means of escaping a troubled past that Mcqueen’s exhaustive direction frequently alludes to.

With excellent performances from both Fassbender and Mulligan, Shame resonates as a testament to Mcqueen’s ability to hone in on his actors’ most vulnerable states for convincing performances. Having worked with Fassbender on his debut film Hunger (2008) (which showed the most barbaric portrayal of prison I’ve ever seen) Mcqueen and Fassbender’s impeccable chemistry is second lived in Shame. One may even argue that if it were not for the incredible control and manipulation that Fassbender exhibits over his own emotions, Shame would crumble under the tremendous weight of Mcqueen’s heavy auteuristic ambitions. Despite these risks, Shame translates as a lonely and jarring picture and Mcqueen provides an alternate perspective of the capabilities of his prowess displayed in with Hunger (2008). Shame is completely unapologetic in its style, and this is Mcqueen’s calling card.

New York Film Critics Circle patron David Denby’s decision to break his promise to respect the embargo agreed upon by the NYFCC and Sony pictures has sent enormous tremors in the film world as of late. The conditions of this agreement were that Sony would give the NYFCC an exclusive 
sneak preview of David Fincher’s American remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (slated to come out in wide release Dec 21st), and in return the members of the NYFCC would hold off on publishing any reviews of the film until its actual release date.
Well Denby decided to be a badass, and published a full blown review in this week’s issue of The New Yorker, causing an uproar from both Sony and the film’s producer Scott Rudin. Although Sony sent out a rash of emails begging other reviewers not to follow the same path as Denby, it was Rudin who took this occasion to personally address the issue with Denby over a series of jarring emails. 
After hearing both sides of the story (or at least the parts that were released to the public) its very tough to point the finger at who is really wrong here: Denby for bold face lying about his intentions and not honoring his word, or Rudin for contributing to the ‘holiday jam up’ of films that seem to be pissing many people off (Denby sites as one of his primary reasons for breaking the embargo).
I think both parties are acting like big babies, Denby for not only lying, but for blaming his actions on the ‘holiday jam up’ on Rudin and associates. As Rudin states in his email, what the hell does he and his production company have to do with this? Similarly, Rudin and his team are behaving like clowns and this is not only because Rudin refuses to acknowledge that Denby gave The Girl with the Dragon tattoo positive reviews, and hey there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but because he choose to grossly overlook the fact of what Denby and his brethren are: FILM CRITICS. This title is allotted to the people whose job it is to tell you what they think of your film in the most scathing way possible (the written word), a method  that doesn’t dissipate like a verbal spat and is recorded for all to read, forever. Most importantly, the nature of a film critic is to be brave and speak out, regardless if their opinion is respected or not, and to say that Denby isn’t doing just that would mean that he’s not really doing his job.
I still won’t read Denby’s review though… I don’t want to ruin one of the only films I’ve been excited to see in 2011. Sad eh?
Too bad that after Night of the Hunter ‘s (1955) poor reception, Charles Laughton said he would never direct again. Who know’s who/what else his other films could have inspired? Radio Raheem eat your heart out…
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