The antithesis to the bloated, big-budget commercial fare that dominates the summer multiplex, the annual 48 Hour Film Project has done exactly what its creators envisioned when they founded it in 2001: empower filmmakers of every stripe and experience level to get off their asses and create something from nothing.
John Hughes, the writer and/or director of such 1980s staples as Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club, died of a heart attack yesterday at age 59. That sucks for a variety of reasons, the least of which is that few filmmakers made popular entertainments with as much heart, authenticity and wit as Hughes, and fewer still did it in the largely vapid genre of teen comedy.
Is anyone else as jazzed as I am about the new Star Trek film? It looks like a thrilling ride.
It's due in theaters May 8, and there's already a sequel planned.
Live long and prosper
I just finished reading Shock Value, Jason Zinoman's entertaining look at “how a few eccentric outsiders gave us nightmares, conquered Hollywood and invented modern horror.”
The book celebrates a genre and group of filmmakers often ghettoized when compared to the better-known New Hollywood revolution of the 1970s, a rightly celebrated period and movement — roughly between Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980) — that was investigated in Peter Biskind's equally entertaining Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.
The Room —a low-budget indie melodrama about a love triangle between a “successful banker,” his “beautiful blonde fiance” and his “independent best friend” written, directed and starring aspiring filmmaker Tommy Wiseau — has been called everything from the worst film ever made to the Citizen Kaneof bad movies. I've yet to experience it, but the film’s trailer brings to mind an overripe episode of Guiding Lightwith the production values and acting prowess of a late-night Cinemax C movie. (Curious side note: On the film's poster, Wiseau looks strikingly similar to Gene Simmons. Coincidence, or kismet?)
The 2009 Independent Spirit Awards were unveiled yesterday. And while the Academy Awards' more adventurous little brother has been leaning toward higher-profile specialty films in recent years (like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine), the ’09 batch hearkens back to the awards’ early days when ultra-low-budget indies ruled the scene.
What’s up with this supposedly scary movie called Paranormal Activity?
Paramount Pictures, the film’s distributor, has been sending me e-mail press releases with big, bold-faced titles like “More Than 230,000 Fans “Demand” Paranormal Activity" and "Fans Spur the Film’s Opening in Twenty Additional Cities Across the Country” and “Paranormal Activity Sells Out Midnight Screenings Across the Country.”
Spike Jonze is a curious case.
Born into the Spiegel mail-order catalog fortune (his given name is Adam Spiegel), the teenage Jonze found solace in the skateboard/BMX bike culture of the 1980s. A DIY-bred autodidact with an oddball sense of humor, Jonze’s filmmaking “career” kick-started with a series of crafty skateboard videos that caught the attention of the Beastie Boys, who eventually recruited him to direct their playful, refreshingly lo-fi video for 1994’s “Sabotage.”
A series of inventive music videos followed, all of which were informed by Jonze’s boundless imagination and complete indifference to the flashy, jump-cut-laden techniques that flooded other MTV fare.
Movies that populated theaters in the '80s and '90s are making a comeback. Some are better than others but since there is a built-in audience, Hollywood is cranking out remakes and reboots left and right.
This practice has been done for years but recently more movies than ever have been redone. March brought 21 Jump Street with skinny Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. The buddy cop movie was actually funny and has made more than $90 million so far.
Other notable remakes over the last few years include Fright Night, Conan the Barbarian, Karate Kid, Clash of the
Titans, Footloose, Nightmare on Elm Street, Wall Street, Arthur and Die Hard. Out of the nine mentioned, only Fright Night and Die Hard were actually enjoyable (in my opinion).
The worst out of the bunch had to be Clash of the Titans. Cheesy acting and bad 3D effects plagued this Sam Worthington CGI-fest. Worthington did a better job in the ads for the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 video game.
Now an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie is getting another look, and thank goodness it isn’t Junior.
The first trailer for a new Total Recall was released Sunday. No, this isn’t a late April Fool’s joke. The remake to the 1990 Schwarzenegger movie is a real thing, and fans of not only the original but of science fiction in general should be giddy with anticipation.
The remake stars Colin Farrell, coming off of his performance from the 1980s vampire remake Fright Night, with Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel taking roles of eye candy. Will there be another three-breasted woman? Fans of the original can only hope. AMC’s Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston plays the bad guy. The cast alone gives a lot more credit to this remake than most.
We will all have to wait to actually watch the thing to figure out if it’s worthy enough to be considered a decent remake.
In other movie news, the next American Pie installment hits theaters today. To me, this is going to be a paycheck movie. Meaning, the original cast of characters is only returning because they haven’t been in anything major in the last few years. Well, for the exception of Allison Hannigan who has been on the long running show How I Met Your Mother. Expect a lot of dick and sex jokes, which is essentially what the first movie was, but now the cast is much older.
The original American Pie was released in 1999 and was seen as a fresh take on the high school sex comedy. The second added on to that with more outlandish situations — like mixing up lube with super glue. American Wedding was thought to be the ending to Stifler and the gang’s stories — compared to the first and second, it was somewhat of a letdown. Then came the straight-to-DVD American Pie Presents movies. I will admit, though, American Pie Beta House was a hilarious college comedy; women might not want to watch because it focuses on a misbehaving fraternity.
Squeezing film stars for as much money as possible is the norm nowadays with movie franchises – just look at Pirates of Caribbean. Maybe I am jumping to conclusions with American Reunion, but the pie lost its flavor a long time ago.