Tim Burton: The Exhibit

Tim BurtonApparently Tim Burton is some sort of national treasure because after years of making distinctive looking films, he is being honoured by none other than the MoMA.

Running November 22nd through April 26th 2010, the major exhibit titled “Tim Burton” (how original) will feature 700 pieces including paintings, drawings, storyboards, maquettes, puppets and other work created or designed by Burton over the decades. If that’s not enough for film fans, the MoMA will also be presenting a series of films which either influenced or inspired the director and titles include James Whale’s Frankenstein, Robert Wiene, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Roger Corman’s The Pit and the Pendulum. Gotta say, none of those titles surprise me.

I was much more interested to read that some of the items on exhibit are never before seen pieces produced by Burton while he was working for Disney on projects like The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron.

I hope that if the exhibit goes well, it will turn into a travelling show which makes a stop in Vancouver; it would be fantastic to take in a day (or two) of Burton goodness!

Bellucci and Cage in Love; It Must Be a Spell

Monica BellucciI haven’t been following this story but when news like this hits, I can’t help but wonder what the hell the movie world is coming to.

Maybe you’ve read news that Nicolas Cage is working on a new movie (or maybe you saw the god awful pictures) with his National Treasure bud Jon Turteltaub. It’s based on this poem (which the webs tell me is famous) titled “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” in which a sorcerer leaves his workshop in the hands of his apprentice who essentially decides to play at magic while the boss is gone only to lose control of the spells he concocts.

Turteltaub’s adaptation brings the action to modern day New York (not quite sure how that’s going to work out) and stars Cage as the sorcerer, Jay Baruchel as the meddling apprentice and it was announced a while back that Alfred Molina was also cast in the film as the evil sorcerer. That announcement caught my attention for all of five minutes but it’s recent news that Monica Bellucci had also been cast in the film that really got me geared up.

What on earth is she thinking? Nicholas Cage’s long lost love? Am I really to believe that a woman who looks this amazing would fall for a balding dude who can’t even control his protégé? For realz? Apparently that’s the case.

Not sold on this but I’m certainly more curious than I was before the announcement. Still doesn’t give me any hope in hell that this movie is going to be any better but we can be sure that Ms. Bellucci will be a marvel to look at.

Someone’s Gonna Die: Hawke & D’Onofrio in Staten Island Trailer

Staten Island Movie StillEveryone knows you don’t rip off the mob right? Apparently someone forgot to tell this guy.

Once known as Little New York but now retitled to Staten Island, James DeMonaco’s directorial debut stars Ethan Hawke as Sully, a septic tank cleaner who decides he’s going to rip off Tarzo (Vincent D’Onofrio), a mafia boss who uses a local grocer (Seymour Cassel) to “clean-up” his messes; I’m fairly certain he probably has a larger part to play but the first trailer, care of QE, doesn’t really specify what.

It’s not a great trailer but it provides a good introduction to the story, one I’m definitely curious to check out. It also looks like there may be more at play than just a heist but again, the trailer doesn’t really set up much of a story outside the plan to rob the don. That said, what little we see is pretty good. Both Hawke and D’Onofrio look their parts (though I’m surprised it’s taken this long to see D’Onofrio as a mobster) and it’s nice to see the two actors re-united.

Staten Island hasn’t been picked up for US distribution but the film is scheduled to open in France later this year and has been picked up for Canadian distribution by VVS Films; a company does both DVD and theatrical releases so there is a chance that the film may open around the country later this year.

Trailer is tucked under the seat!

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A Martin Scorsese Marathon

Basically, you make another movie, and another, and hopefully you feel good about every picture you make. And you say, ‘My name is on that. I did that. It’s OK’. But don’t get me wrong, I still get excited by it all. That, I hope, will never disappear.” – Martin Scorsese

For the better part of the last three decades, I have been a fan of Martin Scorsese. My admiration first took bloom in the summer of 1985, and happened to coincide with what I consider to be the discovery of my young adult life; set off the main drag of the town I grew up in, I found a small video store. Now, this in itself was no great revelation; in the years before Blockbuster came barreling into my area, forcing all the smaller video chains out of business, there were at least half a dozen such stores within a 3-mile radius. But the moment I walked into this particular video palace, I knew it was special. Where most were lining their shelves with numerous copies of the ‘hot new releases’, this one had titles like Midnight Cowboy, 2001: A Space Odyssey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Straw Dogs, A Clockwork Orange, films that the others simply didn’t offer. For me, this store was a treasure trove, and I returned there often, sometimes 3-4 times a week, uncovering classic after classic, films that, to this day, I consider some of the finest ever made.

And it was here that I first found Mean Streets.

Tough and unflinching, Mean Streets was like a punch to the head for a 15-year-old from the suburbs; a marriage of images and rock music, violence and pain the likes of which I had never seen before, offering a glimpse into a lifestyle that I found all too real, and a little bit frightening. I must have rented it at least six times that summer, and as a result, Mean Streets fast became my favorite movie. More than this, it was my jumping-off point into the career of Martin Scorsese. After Mean Streets, I moved on to Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, two more shots to the head. Through these three films, I realized just how deep, just how down-and-dirty, and just how moving the cinema could be. They marked a turning point in my development as a film fan. Movies were no longer limited to the land of make believe; they would also be a window overlooking the real world.

Now, almost 24 years after I first walked into that video store, I’ve decided to take my admiration to the next, perhaps the ultimate, level. Over the course of the last several weeks, I sat down with everything that home video has to offer of Martin Scorsese’s work behind the camera, 26 films in all, and what I uncovered on this love-fest of mine proved to be just as enlightening as that first viewing of Mean Streets all those years ago.

As I sat watching one Scorsese movie after the other, I found myself asking, “What exactly is it that constitutes a Martin Scorsese film”? It was a question I had to pose, because I quickly realized that most of my initial beliefs, the pre-conceptions I had built up about the man and his career, only told part of the story.

For one, there was my presumption that the recurring trait in every Scorsese film was a down-to-earth quality, where the genuine, the realistic, would be favored above all else. Well, this is certainly true in some of Scorsese’s finest films, especially those where actual events served as a foundation (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, The Aviator). However, it was wrong of me to discount the role that fantasy played in Scorsese’s work. The opening scene of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore looks as if it was lifted right out of Gone With the Wind, and the musical numbers of New York, New York were obvious nods to the Hollywood big-budget spectaculars of the 40’s and 50’s. There is the dreamy romance of The Age of Innocence, and the hilarious bad luck of Paul Hackett in After Hours; in short, films that have little or no basis in reality whatsoever, proving that the fantastic plays just as important a role in the great director’s work as reality does.
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The Taking of Pelham 123 Trailer

The Taking of Pelham 123 Movie StillI have a bad habit. I tend to buy movies on recommendation alone, which often leads them onto my shelf to sit unwatched for months if not years. That is the case with Joseph Sargent’s The Taking of Pelham 123 which was recommended at some point and which I purchased for $10. It’s still sitting on the shelf – unwrapped but also unwatched. Looks like I’ll have to put a little more effort into sitting down with that one since the trailer for the remake is now kicking around the interwebs.

Directed by Tony Scott, the modern take stars John Travolta as the leader of the kidnappers and Denzel Washington as the Metro worker who ends up as chief negotiator. Watching the trailer I had two thoughts. The first was that there was a whole lot more action going on than I expected and secondly, I’m having a hard time buying Washington as a meek sort of dude who *happens* to get caught up in all of the action. I’m now used to seeing him kick ass and this meek Washington isn’t doing much for me. The one real highlight of the trailer: James Gandolfini. I can’t figure out what role he plays but god I love that guy. The cast is nicely, very nicely actually, rounded out with Luis Guzmán and John Turturro.

Not sure this will be any good but I’m wondering if this will turn out like Domino a lovable, crazy mess of a movie. We’ll find out when The Taking of Pelham 123 opens on June 12th.

Trailer is tucked under the seat!

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Durst’s The Education of Charlie Banks WILL Screen (Somewhere)

The Education of Charlie Banks Movie StillLast year I posted a great looking trailer for Fred Durst’s directorial debut The Education of Charlie Banks. Since that original post, Durst’s second film, the poorly received The Longshots, came and went from the multiplexes but his award winning Tribeca debut never materialized.

I thought the film had been indefinitely shelved until this morning when /Film posted the trailer along with some information on the film’s released. According to that post, the film will be opening on March 27th though there’s no indication on the official website (Anchor Bay doesn’t even have it listed) as to whether that’s a limited release though I would guess that may be the case.

I’m still interested in checking this out though I must admit that the long delay isn’t doing the film any favours. You’d think they’d try to bank on the Tribeca win but it’s a little late for that. If you’re curious, be sure to check out the trailer.

Clip and Trailer from “Tokyo! The Movie”

Tokyo! The MovieGondry, Joon-Ho and Carax amazingly all come together to make one operatic feeling, visionary, fantastical anthology piece all based on Japan’s hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

In the tradition of such films as New York Stories, Night on Earth, Paris Je t’Aime and its forthcoming sequel New York Je t’Aime, Tokyo! addresses the timeless question of whether we shape cities, or if cities shape us.

I’ve heard very little about the film thus far but can tell you I’m highly anticipatory of what is likely to be one of the hidden gems of 2009. Great directors giving a fantasy look at one of their favorite cities as only they can tell it. As a huge fan of Paris Je t’Aime, this has got more greatness written all over it.

The clip below doesn’t give us much, but I stuck the newest trailer under the seats (thanks to filmjunk) along with a few stills. The OFFICIAL SITE has a bunch more information including several clips, images and synopsis.

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Trailer for Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s Sugar

Sugar Movie StillThe creative team of Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, who provided the excellent Half Nelson a few years ago, were enough of a draw for me to see their new offering Sugar (our review), a film about a Dominican baseball player trying to break into the MLB.

With the help of a great performance from new comer Algenis Perez Soto, Boden and Fleck managed to create a sports film that I could really fall in love with, mostly because it’s much more about the characters than the game. I did have a few complaints, particularly the too clean feel of the last third of the story when everything else to that point, even the small occurrences and actions, seemed so difficult to achieve. Still, Sugar is engaging and beautifully shot, carrying the audience along on the fairy tale ride.

Sugar was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics who will open the film in limited release on April 3rd and if their previous limited releases are any indication, it will be screened wide enough that most will have an opportunity to check it out. It’s well worth a drive.

Trailer is tucked under the seat!

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Blanchett to Fight Cancer; In Style

Cancer Vixen Book CoverSome interesting news coming out of Hollywood today; mostly interesting because they don’t quite fit the profile of the star involved.

Cate Blanchett, the four time nominated and one time Oscar winner is working on bringing a film adaptation of the book “Cancer Vixen: A True Story” to the big screen. From the title, you may be able to discern what the story is about but unless you’ve read it, you’re likely to miss the boat on the details. Marisa Acocella Marchetto’s graphic novel is a humorous look at how she fought breast cancer – without insurance. Here’s the blurb from Amazon which perfectly captures the story and Marchetto’s biting style:

In 2004, cartoonist Marchetto, a hyperstylish “terminal bachelorette,” was busy capturing “fabulista” humor, in the New Yorker and Glamour. She was engaged to a fabulous guy, perennially cool restaurateur Silvano Marchetto, whose personal style perfectly matched her Manhattan-centric life. If this were fiction, this is exactly when she’d stumble; unfortunately for her, life imitated art, and sure enough, she found a lump in her breast shortly before her wedding. Just as bad, she didn’t have health insurance: her policy had lapsed shortly before the fateful mammogram. Cancer Vixen tells the story of what happens next, and how her inner circle— stylists, gossip columnists, shoe designers and assorted others you’d only find in New York City, rallies round to help her beat the disease and get married on time and in high style. Marchetto wears her best high heels to chemotherapy and remarks on the similarities between her hospital gown and Diane von Furstenberg designs. The fashion details are great fun, drawn in a spare loose style, but it’s the heart of her story, the support and love she gets from her family and friends, that make Cancer Vixen a universal story that’s hard to put down.

Blanchett hopes to star in the film adaptation of the book and I can’t wait to see how this plays out. Blanchett as a New Yorker, fighting off cancer while being funny, irreverent and completely fashion savvy? Count me in!

VIFF Review: Sugar

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It would be simple to write off Half Nelson, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s feature directorial debut, as a “fluke” but when the duo follow it up with a film as wonderful as Sugar, that initial thought is quickly dismissed.

Sugar Movie StillMiguel ‘Sugar’ Santos is a young man whose life is baseball. Hailing form a small town in the Dominican Republic Sugar, as he is nicknamed, is called up for training camp in the US. Things go well for the talented pitcher who is then drafted into the minor leagues and shipped off to play baseball in small town Iowa, a place where everyone appears to live and breathe baseball. Sugar adjusts well to his new life and slowly, he begins to learn the language, the customs and he even becomes involved in some extra curricular activities but things start to fall apart. He suffers a minor injury, begins to lose focus on the field and eventually is relegated to relief pitcher.

Though the film focuses it’s attention mostly on Sugar’s rise and fall from grace, it also provides one of the best looks at the inner workings of baseball I’ve ever seen (or at least seen since I recently caught up with that long ago Kevin Costner film Bull Durham). We see the struggles faced by young players being drafted in far off places for a fraction of what their American counterparts are paid and outside of the common place knowledge that if you don’t work out, there’s a younger, better version coming up the ranks to replace you, there’s the added pressure of knowing that if you are replaced, you’ll be returning home. But while baseball is an integral part of the story, the true wonder is the character of Sugar.

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Synecdoche, New York – Fabulous One Sheet

One of the challenging delights in store for fall moviegoers is Charlie Kaufman‘s directorial debut: Synecdoche, New York (the word is pronounced si-nek’-do-kee and defined here.) It is the 8 1/2 for the current generation (ever so slightly supplanting Wes Anderson‘s underrated The Life Aquatic) and proof that Kaufman‘s particular brand of auteurism survives beyond dropping his screenplays into the hands of Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry. The film has its own very assured directorial style, a component necessary to go along with the strange and alien screenplay.

Michael’s Review Here
Kurt’s Capsule Here
Cinecast Talk Here
Trailer Here

While it has left critics and festival goers reeling from the experience, it is certainly something that plants a seed and grows in your brain. This is of course a good thing, and the film will achieve its cult status in due time. Personally, I anticipate taking it all in again, hopefully I’ll have better luck telling Emily Watson from Samantha Morton in those copper wigs.

Wow, all of this to say that a fabulous new One Sheet for the film popped up on line (The first one, a Cannes Promo One Sheet, is fine too).

A Larger version of the new One Sheet can be found tucked under the seat.

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