Panic Attack!

According to BBC News, Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez has been offered a $30 million contract to make a Hollywood film with Sam Raimi as one of the producers. Numerous studios took notice of the man after he uploaded a five minute sci-fi short on YouTube that reportedly only cost $300 to make.

“I uploaded (Panic Attack!) on a Thursday and on Monday my inbox was totally full of e-mails from Hollywood studios,” Alvarez said. “It was amazing, we were all shocked.”

It’s shaping up to be a story similar to that of District 9‘s Neill Bloomkamp, whom Peter Jackson championed on the strength of Bloomkamp’s short Alive in Jorburg. Hopefully this story will have similar positive results, because the short, which you can watch below, is pretty impressive.

Review: Micmacs à tire-larigot

After a lengthy hiatus, Micmacs à tire-larigot marks a refreshing return for Jean-Pierre Jeunet, one of French cinema’s most consistently fascinating filmmakers. He first dazzled audiences alongside partner-in-crime Marc Caro with a slew of shorts, the beloved dark comedy Delicatessenand the fairy tale The City of Lost Children, then took a detour through Hollywood with Alien: Resurrection before delivering the one-and-only Amélie and A Very Long Engagement, which manages to be at once a sweeping romance, potent anti-war piece and splendidly Gothic mystery worthy of comparison to Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s novels. Now, devotees of his fantasy-laced work can safely add Micmacs, which screened at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, to his ever-growing résumé of cinematic triumphs.

Comedic actor Dany Boon (Bievenue chez les Ch’tis, Joyeux Noël) stars as endearing hero Bazil, whose father is killed when he steps on a landmine in Morocco. Many years later, a chance incident ends with him receiving a bullet in his skull that doesn’t kill him, but threatens the possibility of death at any moment. Rendered homeless by the accident, Bazil decides to seek vengeance against the two arms manufacturers responsible for the fateful mine and bullet, soon acquiring assistance in the form of a surrogate family of oddballs. They include Julie Ferrier as a talented contortionist, Omar Sy as an avid collector of expressions, Jean-Pierre Marielle as a veteran con man, Marie-Julie Baup as resident brainiac Calculette, Michel Crémadès as a gnomish inventor and familiar Jeunet collaborators Yolande Moreau and Dominique Pinon as, respectively, the group’s cook and a human cannonball record-holder.

Micmacs’ prologue contains the same sober tone and golden color scheme of Engagement, but from there, with the witty appearance of a title card reading “The End” and the flip of a coin, the film takes off on a deliriously funny and incredibly inventive joy ride. With help from his frequent co-writer Guillaume Laurent and an ingenious army of artists and technicians, Jeunet constructs yet another of his magpie nests of oddities and wonders, this one resembling a feature-length episode of Mission: Impossible as seen through the funhouse mirror of his imagination. As in Amélie and Engagement, the camera journeys through Paris with visible affection, highlighting a traveler’s must-visit list of locations like the Moulin Rouge, Pont de Bir-Hakeim (the bridge prominently featured in Last Tango in Paris and many other films) and distinctive St. Christopher’s hostel situated alongside the Bassin de la Villette. However, during the Q&A session after the TIFF screening, Jeunet said that after having made three films set in Paris, he was “done” with the city and would like to choose a different one for his next project, with San Francisco, where his wife hails from, being a possible contender (though one audience member enthusiastically shouted “Toronto!”).
Would you like to know more…?

Vinnie & Mario Trailer


Just how busy is Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn? After two films landing (in North America at least) in 2009, Bronson and Valhalla Rising, he has another premiering on December 26th in Denmark?

Considering (I believe) that it is the ‘Grindhouse Guy’ on trailer voice-over duty, and the serious/silly mix in the visuals, I’m not even 100% sure it is real. Todd over at Twitch thinks so, however. Either way, I’d watch this. The use of the usual mobster cliches seem a little bit different, when one of them is wielding an axe. And Refn consistently delivers interesting movies.

Short teaser trailer for Vinnie & Mario is tucked under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

Bookmarks for December 17

  • Dennis Cozzalio vs. Walter Chaw on THE BLIND SIDE
    “Denver-based film critic Walter Chaw, who writes for the site Film Freak Central and has never been one to shy away from overstatement, may have topped even himself for hyperbolic tongue-lashing with his review of The Blind Side. The review is a pinnacle of sour self-satisfaction, apparently seriously positing The Blind Side as our very own Triumph of the Will, Ole Miss iconography apparently standing in for those swastika thingies. But Chaw’s brand of bombast may suggest to you that Hancock’s evil film may not be the only elephant in the room with an agenda.”
  • Do You Guys Consider Yourselves Outsiders or Insiders?
    Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron, Lee Daniels (Precious), Peter Jackson, Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) and Quentin Tarantino have a candid discussion of filmmaking and swap war stories.
  • Criterion goes to the George Eastman House
    We have been talking to them about accessing their archive on a more regular basis, starting with the three Von Sternberg films that are coming up. It’s really an interesting place, and we got to see some pretty cool things that we thought we’d share with you [..] The vaults are pretty endless, but incredibly well organized.
  • Filmbrain talks some of the more interesting and provocative One-Sheets of the decade.
    Inspired by my good friend Adrian Curry, whose Movie Posters of the Decade post over at The Auteurs led critic Roger Ebert to issue forth a “bleh” (and then respond with his own choices), I thought I’d join in on the fun and put together a post on posters as well.

Le Dernier Vol (The Last Voyage) Trailer


Ah Marion Cotillard, how I do love this actress. From her wonderful starring turn in Jeux D’Enfants to a supporting role as a deadly assassin in A Very Long Engagement to her Oscar winning portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose up to her current (on DVD recently) strong and sexy role in Public Enemies. She is now officially getting big enough for carry-the-movie-roles in France, and here comes a classic adult motion picture (something Hollywood used to be very good at) to give her the chance. In Le Dernier Vol (The Last Flight) she plays a woman who loses her husband in the desert and dives in head first to find him. Epic spectacle, thrills, romance and drama will likely ensue:

A romantic drama inspired by real-life flying couple Bill Lancaster and Jessie ‘Chubbie’ Miller, whose aviation exploits in the 1920s and 30s led to Lancaster’s mysterious death in the Sahara in 1933. Lancaster’s willful and stubborn flying partner and lover flies solo into the desert to try and find him. Arriving in the Tuareg heartlands, she meets Antoine, a rebellious captain from a remote French camel corps, who gets caught up in her dangerous mission. In the oppressive heat and under the massive, empty skies, the pair find themselves falling in love.

Guillaume Canet is nearly unrecognizable with the beard here, but also puts in fine work. Many will remember him as co-star in Danny Boyle’s The Beach, or perhaps as the director of 2007’s crossover thriller, Tell No One, but even more appropriate is that the two leads of the very underrated Jeux D’Enfants are back together for some more ‘traditional’ romancing!

Trailer is tucked under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

Iron Man 2 Trailer


I bet you didn’t think we were going to post this, considering that it as about as ubiquitous as can be around the internet geek-sites. There was a lot of indifference and dismissal of the first Iron Man around Row Three for playing things oh-so-safe to formula (both comic book superhero formula and RDJ persona-formula) and its embrace in the popular and critical community. Call me a sucker, but this one looks slightly better with its Euro-accented Mickey Rourke and CEO-Celebrity Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) becoming a political and economical trump card. There is grist there, will they mill it?

Fool me twice, shame on me!

Trailer is tucked under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

This looks stupid…

But I must say, it looks like it could be the right kind of stupid. The idea of the movie (a group of friends travel back to the 1980s while drunk in a hot tub) is so ludicrous, and the name of the movie (Hot Tub Time Machine) is so ridiculous, and the cast of the movie (John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Chevy Chase, etc.) is so diverse, I can’t help but think that this could surprise some people in the same way that The Hangover did this past summer. Then again, maybe not – but hell, even if I knew nothing about this movie besides the name, I would feel obligated to go see it.


Bookmarks for December 16

  • Evolution of Horror Movie Poster Designs: 1922 – 2009
    For those who like One Sheets, track some of the trends and styles of Horror pictures, here is rough chronological sampling since the genre was born right up to this year.
  • A History of African-Americans in film
    “An interesting time line in words and pictures that show the progress of “Race movies” over the past 100 years.”
  • Golden Globe nods don’t ensure Oscar love
    “Amid the first rush of Globes fanfare, it will be tempting to look at their five nominees for best drama and five for best comedy/musical and declare them the likely front-runners to become the Academy Ten. For even though the HFPA places 10 bets in its two best picture categories, it hasn’t done all that convincing a job in years past of predicting the Academy’s five best picture nominees. Why should its record improve now that the Academy has upped its ante?”
  • Box Office 2.0: ‘Broken Embraces’ and the Cannes ’09 Crop
    Pedro Almodovar’s “Broken Embraces” has managed three consecutive weekends with per-theater-averages of over $40,000, and this weekend – upon expansion from NY to LA – still managed a $18,255 PTA. Impressive.
  • I Am a Follower (and you should be too)
    Here is a write up that will be posted and updated as the time goes on – with the important people Gary King (New York Lovely) believes you should take an interest in as they all have something special and unique to share in and among the indie film world.
  • Take me to a whole new world…but don’t show me how we got there.
    The insistence on a certain type of realism, which in Hollywood comes down to slickness, truncates the audience’s imagination. When everything is presented in the slickest way possible, it’s difficult to engage with film in a meaningful way – unfortunately, this is what people have come to expect.