Friday One Sheet: Christopher Nolan Likes Crumbling Skyscrapers

 
 

I remember when the poster for The Dark Knight debuted featuring fairly direct reference to 9/11 and terror – the tagline was “Welcome to a world without rules.” Matt Brown reminds us that Nolan’s films have often featured architecture since his budgets crossed north of $100M. The Dark Knight Rises promises much more of the mayhem of Chicago destruction (probably more interesting in the thematic department than Transformers 3) with its image a city crumbling on a macro scale.

LAFF 2011: Winnie the Pooh

With Winnie the Pooh opening in theatres this week, we’re bumping our review from the LA Film Festival. Harry Potter isn’t the only film to see this weekend; if you’re over the Harry-hype or your kids aren’t old enough for Potter yet, please check out Winnie the Pooh.

When it was first announced that Disney was going to do a hand-drawn Winnie the Pooh movie, specifically harking back to their 1970 Winnie the Pooh films (shorts collected as The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), I greeted the news with both interest and apprehension. Interest because I’m a fan of hand-drawn animation and Winnie the Pooh, and apprehension because there are a lot of ways Disney could’ve screwed this up. As it turns out, the only possible criticism I could see leveled at the new Winnie the Pooh film is that it’s too perfect an imitator of the original films. However, I would not make that criticism myself, because I loved the originals, and I loved this new addition to the Disney Winnie the Pooh corpus.

After a live-action opening introducing us to Christopher Robin’s room and his stuffed animals (almost the same opening that tied together The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), the narrator jumps us straight into the Hundred Acre Wood, reading from an on-screen storybook about Pooh waking up and feeling a rumbly in his tumbly. But what initially seems to be just a literary framing device, tying the film we’re about to see to A.A. Milne’s original tales, turns out to be a much more involved conceit, as Pooh and the other characters talk back to the narrator and the actual words on the page of the book often become part of the story. This is rather precious, to be sure, but blurring the lines between stories and narrators, or between the story on the page and the written material itself, is an element of storytelling that grabs me every time, and I was charmed immediately.

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Trailer Round Up (Contagion, Thing, Sherlock Holmes, Hugo)

Lots we missed this week, so let’s get to it. This is all star-studded, big budget material in today’s round-up. And you know what? It all ranges from pretty good to damn near amazing; starting with Mr. Soderbergh (and Matt Damon and Gwynneth Paltrow and Marion Cotillard and Kate Winslet and John Hawkes and Larry Fishburne and Bryan Cranston and Jude Law and awesomeness). Ladies and gentlemen,

Contagion – – :

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DVD Review: Assassin Rising (a.k.a. Siyama)

Director: Preecha Songsakul
Producer: Jirun Ratthanaviriyachai
Starring: Than Thanakorn, Thitima Maliwan, Nattanun Jantarawetch, Bawriboon Chanreuang
Year: 2008
Country: Thailand
Duration: 107 min
BBFC Certification: 15

Another day, another patriotic, historical Thai action ‘epic’. Assassin Rising (a.k.a. Siyama) is yet another attempt to cash in on the reasonable success of the likes of Ong Bak and Warrior King (a.k.a. Tom Yum Goong). And like most of it’s ilk, Assassin Rising is uninspiring stuff, despite it’s bizarre attempt to put a slight spin on the old formula.

The film throws the audience straight into matters as a group of determined villagers prepare for battle in an attempt to protect Siam’s capital Ayuthaya against the invading armies of the Ong Mien. About 18 minutes down the line as the scene is set, the heroes have prayed for Buddha’s support and finally begun to do battle, we cut to a bunch of annoying twenty-somethings in the present day driving past the site of the battle. They are abruptly teleported back in time to join our original heroes and temporarily grind the fighting to a halt. These strange visitors are taken to heart incredibly quickly by the villagers and they pledge to help them gain victory and stand strong against the opposing forces.

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Screen Shot Quiz #277

The goal of the screen shot quiz it not to just guess what the movie is that the screen shot is from but to encourage discussion on the film. Feel free to shout out in the comments what the movie is and then provide an opinion or some thoughts on the movie. Oh and the first person who gets the movie right wins our respect.

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

In a bleak and haunting prologue, the once joyful students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are marched through the grey courtyard like prisoners in a concentration camp. Darkness has fallen, and the wondrousness and magic of the castle has all but disappeared. Then the title card floats through the clouds, along with a sombre musical cue, as director David Yates draws us back into the world of Harry Potter for the very last time. It is the final act of a final chapter; a magnificently dark and ambitious conclusion to a cultural, literary and cinematic phenomenon. In that regard, despite proving the mistake of splitting the series’ final book in two, this final Harry Potter film is an undeniable success. Who could have predicted that when Joanna Rowling put pen to paper more than fifteen years ago that this would have been the end result? Grand; dark; exciting; heroic – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a spectacular piece of epic fantasy more than worthy of the legacy of its creator and the hopes and expectations of its fans.

The film picks up directly where the last one left off: with Ron, Harry and Hermione on a mission to destroy the remaining fragments of Lord Voldemort’s soul. As such, rewatching Part 1 is essential before viewing Part 2. This is not a standalone film or even a sequel. Rather, it is the second half of a single movie, one that for reasons of running time and profitability was separated into two. Unfortunately, while this decision gave Yates and company the chance to fit more content in, it has come at quite a cost. Deathly Hallows is more heavily steeped in Potter mythology than any of the other films, and as a result less diehard viewers may find themselves confused by the frequent references to earlier events or unseen characters. But beyond that, Hallows Part 2 is also missing a lot of the character nuances that have been the strongest part of the franchise since Yates took over with Order of the Pheonix. In his hands, Ron and Hermione especially have gone from sidekicks to fully fleshed-out human beings. But here, the non-stop action of the film comes primarily at their expense.
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DVD Triage: Week of July 12

We’re back to a pretty good release week, with some great mainstream films like Rango and some award-winning international features like Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – I only picked a few to feature, but there are more in the “other” section that might be of interest. Not too much on the Instant Watch front, except that a bunch more Criterions are expiring on the 22nd. I’ve highlighted my picks for the best of those, but really, they’re all worthwhile.

NEW RELEASE PICKS OF THE WEEK


Rango
Unusual character designs, a witty script, and a ton of well-placed allusions to past films elevate this film past a lot of its animated competitors – definitely one of the films I’ve enjoyed most this year, and I look forward to revisiting it again.
2011 USA. Director: Gore Verbinski. Starring: Johnny Depp, Timothy Olyphant.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Last year’s Palme d’Or recipient, which I’ve managed to unwillingly miss at least two or three times in theatres in the interim. I’ve heard lots of polarized opinions on the film, and I’m mightily curious to check out its apparently dreamlike and poetic qualities.
Also on Instant.
2010 Thailand. Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Starring: Thanapat Saisaymar, Janjira Pongpas.
Amazon DVD | Amazon Blu-ray | Netflix

[REC]2
I enjoyed the first [REC] quite a bit, and I’ve had people tell me the sequel is even better; we’ll see – this one has SWAT and medical officers going into the building to contain things, but does it have the punch of the first one’s ending?
2009 Spain. Director: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza. Starring: Jonathan Mellor, Manuela Velasco.
Amazon DVD | Netflix

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Screen Shot Quiz #276

The goal of the screen shot quiz it not to just guess what the movie is that the screen shot is from but to encourage discussion on the film. Feel free to shout out in the comments what the movie is and then provide an opinion or some thoughts on the movie. Oh and the first person who gets the movie right wins our respect.

Just for fun I also blacked out the character from this screen shot. This was a pretty big movie when it came out.

Screen Shot Quiz #275

The goal of the screen shot quiz it not to just guess what the movie is that the screen shot is from but to encourage discussion on the film. Feel free to shout out in the comments what the movie is and then provide an opinion or some thoughts on the movie. Oh and the first person who gets the movie right wins our respect.