Be careful John Woo…Don’t mess with Master Suzuki

One of the early announcements out of Cannes was that of a new picture on its way from director John Woo. Known for over the top action scenes, fine cheese and crates of doves, Woo will be looking to remake one of the classic films from Japanese movie studio Nikkatsu as part of its centenary celebration. Entitled Day Of The Beast, the film will be an English language take on Seijun Suzuki’s superb 1963 film Youth Of The Beast. Of its many great scenes, one of my favourites is when Jo Shishido’s main character survives being blown up in a house while he’s hanging upside down, manages to swing himself to a gun, fight off two remaining yakuza and then shoot himself free before finishing them both off. How can Woo top that?

Of course, I’m kidding when I tell Woo to tread carefully. I’m not one to believe that the original film can be wrecked by any attempt to remake it. In fact, any attention a remake can bring to an earlier film is definitely welcomed – especially when it’s something by one of my favourite directors. Though he was a studio director – in other words, he had to film whatever script they gave him with whatever cast they gave him – Seijun Suzuki figured out early on how to keep things interesting even when the scripts were standard B-movie fare. Akin somewhat to Hitchcock in viewing the role of the director to be more technical in nature (where does the camera sit, when does it move, how do I frame things, etc.), Suzuki was able to play with storytelling conventions a great deal by adding subtext and context via his images and visual style while avoiding exposition like the plague. The classic story is that Nikkatsu fired him upon seeing his 1967 film Branded To Kill after having warned him to play by the rules (his previous film Tokyo Drifter wasn’t exactly a straight line narrative either). His methods of telling his story made generic plots into interesting ones and I’ve never seen a film of his that didn’t make me broadly smile at something totally unexpected, make me think “Whoa, that was cool…” and yet still convey relevant information about the story or character.

So in anticipation of John Woo’s re-imagining of one of the classic yakuza films, here’s just a few examples of Suzuki’s work:

 

Youth Of The Beast (1963)

 

Gate Of Flesh (1964)

 

Would you like to know more…?

Hey Man, Nice Shot [2011]

Other than year end lists, we’re not much good at recapping the year with images/videos like so many other great sites around the web-o-sphere. Too busy watching movies than to write about them I guess. That’s why we give a huge hero cookie out to our friend Ryan McNeil over at The Matinee for hooking us up with his version of the year in pictures.
Take it away Ryan…

As the end of the year approaches, I find myself reflecting on 2011 at the movies. As a guy who sees much of the world through a camera lens – though admittedly not as much as he once did – I find that certain images get burned into my brain. So in no particular order, here are twelve of my favorite shots from the films of 2011…

What did you think? Please leave comments with your thoughts on some of the best shots of 2011.

My Love For Film in a Snapshot #3

When it comes to Georges Franju’s brilliant 1960s horror Eyes Without a Face there are literally dozens of images I could have chosen. But in the end I went with the one above of the main character – the daughter of a brilliant surgeon who he tries to “fix” – as she wears the eerily iconic mask to cover up her injury. I love the way the woman is gently tilting up her face to check on her and the way the girl stares blankly back at her wearing that almost inexplicably creepy blank mask. A haunting image from a haunting film.

My Love for Film in a Snapshot #2

As soon as we started this series, I knew what I wanted to feature. The final shot from Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (sorry for those who haven’t seen it – and please remedy this soon if so) is so haunting and so perfect a way to end the film. It’s always stayed with me years after the first time I saw it. The only thing this still snapshot loses is the steady panning of the camera, emulating a CCTV camera. Perfection.

My Love for Film in a Snapshot #1

A bird’s eye view of the bloody carnage in David Slade’s highly enjoyable 2007 vampire flick 30 Days of Night. It’s one of those images which sticks out for me in 21st century horror, the way the blood is splattered on the white snow and the various bodies (some helpless/dead victims, some the vampires themselves) scattered across the frame. Oddly beautiful.

Click to Enlarge This

From the March edition of Vanity Fair magazine, many of today’s hot young stars… and Robert Duvall.

 

 

Ryan Reynolds
Jake Gyllenhaal
Anne Hathaway
James Franco
Jennifer Lawrence
Anthony Mackie
Olivia Wilde
Jesse Eisenberg
Mila Kunis
Robert Duvall
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Andrew Garfield
A Leopard
Rashida Jones
Garrett Hedlund
Noomi Rapace

70s Bootleg Movie Posters

I never knew that there were illegal, bootleg screenings of Western (Hollywood) films in third world countries. Though I suppose it makes sense. Who’s going to enforce it and who really gives a crap. Apparently in Ghana, nobody. These posters were created by local artists to help promote ticket sales of travelling movie shows. Most of them look like the work of semi-competent 7th graders aspiring to be graphic novelists and some of them don’t even really have imagery that remotely resemble the actual content of the film being advertised. I’ve posted a few on this page, but for the whole gambit of 70 posters, head over to Awesome-Robo.com.

Do you have a favorite?

 

Mondays Suck Less in the Third Row

We’ve got our two regular Friday columns, but I realized we never have anything ready to go on Mondays. So since you’re likely back at work or back to school today; or just one of those people who has an irrational dislike of Mondays, we’ve decided to put together this little “welcome back to reality” post.

This is basically just a series of funny or interesting things we’ve come across over the weekend. They may be movie related or they may not. Either way, hopefully it will be a nice distraction from whatever you’re supposed to be doing right now. Enjoy!

The Royal Family:


Stop motion within stop motion:

Would you like to know more…?

While You Were Out…

The Big Lebowski was finally released on Blu-ray yesterday. The balance of forces between good and evil are finally tipped in the direction of the former. It really ties the room together. And so begins the celebration:

 

*UPDATE* Well I’ll be damned. You can watch the entire reunion on The Big Lebowski Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/BigLebowskiMovie?sk=app_183835695015178

Greatest Compilation of “Behind the Scenes” Photos I’ve Ever Seen

Before CGI took over everything and “ruined” special effects (insert grumpy old man comment here) there was something called mechanical set design, models and practical effects that wowed audiences. This is one amazing compilation of images I recommend perusing your way through. Some of these you may have seen before, others maybe not – but honestly even if you’ve seen some of these 100 times, it’s worth another look in my opinion.

I managed to grab these before the site completely fell apart earlier today, I managed to grab some of these shots for your viewing pleasure. I think my favorite is the one from The Gate and the giant room set only because we’ve posted the Stanley Kubrick self portrait before. It’s a movie I haven’t even seen, but will now. Enjoy…

most of these are clickable for a larger version

Ghostbusters.

 
 

On the set of Faust.

 
 

Would you like to know more…?