Tuesday, December 22, 2009

As Wichita Falls, So Falls Tom Cruise's Stardom

Yeah, another trailer post. Whatever, I write about what's available to me.

Anyway, above is the trailer for Knight & Day, which stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz as a secret agent and a civilian, respectively, who meet boarding a flight and end up in several action-y hijinks involving CG and Peter Sarsgaard. The film used to be called Wichita, but 20th Century Fox loves puns like "Squeakquel" and "All About Steve", so now it's got the current title, which, if I were guessing (since there are no knights in the trailer) probably refers respectively to the last names of Cruise and Diaz's characters.

It's weird to consider that Tom Cruise's status as a movie star is probably permanently unrecoverable. It feels like he was the last generation of movie star, when we really had movie stars and not celebrities. Yet, take Mel Gibson, who's making a similar comeback to movie theaters in January with Edge of Darkness without the sense that his ship has sailed.

Which is not to say that Knight & Day looks too terrible. Some of the jokes are a bit lame, but even if Cruise isn't going to be the Tom Cruise he once was, at least it looks like he's having a blast. All in all, I'd say it has the potential to be better than Mr & Mrs. Smith but short of True Lies. Still, I can't help but watch the trailer and wonder, would Tom Cruise have ever done this movie had he not had a meltdown? Then again, that's pretty much what's interesting about it; perhaps he can stop being a celebrity and start being kind of cool (although it's really hard to tell if he's aware that Knight & Day is playing on his glibness).

As for Cameron Diaz, I wish it was still 1994. I don't think she'll ever top The Mask.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Above is the trailer for The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the new live-action Disney production starring Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel, directed by National Treasure's Jon Turtletaub.

The only reason I posted it is because I find it very interesting and different from Disney's other live-action productions in that the trailer doesn't really have any big comedy moments in it. I think I'd like it if the final product was simply a straight-up Disney action movie without an undercurrent of (potentially awful) comic relief for the movie to lean on. Of course, I'm not sure I trust that the final product will be the same as the trailer (especially given Baruchel's inclusion, since he is traditionally a comic actor).

The other part worth mentioning is the scene where Baruchel is clearly in the middle of the events of the classic Fantasia short of the same name. It's a little weird. Hmmm...

I'd also like to make a plea for the internet, collectively, to learn how to spell Nicolas Cage's name properly. There is no H in it. It's not that hard to remember. Please take note. (Further courses on mistakes like "Seth Rogan" and "Tom Hank's" will be conducted at my irritation/discretion.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

"And that's how you came up with the idea for the flux capacitor..."

"...which is what makes time travel possible."

In six years it will be 2015, and while the world's geniuses are (obviously) hard at work on the flying car, the hoverboard, self-lacing Nikes, self-fitting auto-dry jackets, video waiters, Gray's Sports Almanac, thumbprint credit and identification, Jaws 5-18, timed weather, a faster justice system without any lawyers and inundating the general public with an extreme 80's fetish combined with a total lack of aesthetic taste, someone has invented an amazing Back to the Future mod for Crysis and Crysis Wars.

Also, I was monitoring that scan you just interfaced, you are terminated. In the meantime, here's a bunch of other Back to the Future-related video to make you feel better.

But, really. The hoverboard. First in line.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Fourth Kind

I wrote this for Boxoffice.com but due to a bit of confusion, there were two Fourth Kind pieces, and the other one was already up before they figured it out. Since it's still a perfectly good piece, I figure I'll run it here instead.
In late September, the long-delayed independent horror film Paranormal Activity opened in 12 theaters with a low level of buzz among genre fans. Now, in the final days before Halloween weekend, the film is riding a massive wave of fan-generated hype that's earned the $15,000 film $65.1 million in the US so far and helped it shut out the long-standing Saw series at the box office last weekend. This week, Paramount announced that international releases are currently on the horizon, and extremely tentative plans for a sequel are being kicked around the studio.

However, at Universal, it's not the film's demonic possession plot that's sending chills down people's spines, it's the striking similarities between Activity and their upcoming thriller The Fourth Kind, which opens on November 5th. Both films play with the implication that the events depicted in the movies are either real or based on real events, both dabble in the characters' disbelief before building to some seriously scary phenomena (although Fourth Kind's creeps are aliens rather than demons), and it's possible that both even contain at least a little low-quality digital-camera tripod footage (a few chunks show up in The Fourth Kind's trailer, but it's unclear if it's actually in the movie).

It's also probably déjà vu for writer/director Olatunde Osunsanmi, whose 2005 feature directorial debut WIthIN (aka The Cavern) bears more than a few passing similarities to Neil Marshall's The Descent, which was making a stir in UK theaters just over a month before Osunsanmi's cave horror premiered in Los Angeles. In both cases, his competition was a similarly untested director, leaving Universal with very few marketing hooks to hang their hat on that Paranormal Activity hasn't already laid claim to. "I think The Fourth Kind marketing is top notch and they're selling the movie quite well, [but] now the audience will see right through their gimmick," says Bloody-Disgusting's Brad Miska (aka Mr. Disgusting). "[And] The Box also opens that weekend, which I expect to take a small piece of the cake."

Then again, despite movie star Milla Jovovich in the lead role, The Fourth Kind doesn't look like the kind of epic undertaking that would break Universal or producer Gold Circle's bank; even a flop could probably be counted on to earn $5 million on opening weekend and make the rest back in home video sales and rentals. However, Universal has struggled since the beginning of summer, releasing a string of box-office disappointments that, on paper, probably read like surefire blockbusters, including the Adam Sandler/Judd Apatow collaboration Funny People and the Borat follow-up Bruno. Given that Universal had a pretty good spring (bolstered by the hit reboot Fast & Furious) and started off fall on the right foot (thanks to their stake in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds), the studio is no doubt hoping for at least an even theatrical return on The Fourth Kind to make their overall 2009 performance sound merely disappointing rather than lackluster.

What that actual magic number is remains a mystery. On IMDb, The Fourth Kind's production budget isn't listed -- perhaps a PR move on Universal's part -- but the film is being heavily advertised on The Discovery Channel between various ghost hunting and alien abduction programs, so it's clear that the studio has already sunk some money into the film. Had they not already pulled the trigger, it might not be a stretch to think Universal would have considered moving the film to January, where the extremely similar White Noise (based on the real-life phenomenon of E.V.P.) did very well back in 2005, racking up $55.8 million against a $10 million budget, and where the studio successfully released the $16 million PG-13 horror The Unborn earlier this year, to tune of $42.6 million.

Meanwhile, the Paranormal Activity hype train rolls on. Ain't It Cool News founder Harry Knowles Twitters a rumor that a 17-year-old girl had a heart attack at an Activity screening in Lowell, Massachussets, while Universal remains trapped between a rock and a hard place, unable to make a move. Even if Paranormal's box office peters out after Halloween, Universal can only hope that audiences are still looking to be scared. Miska is optimistic. "Fans of Paranormal will probably hate Fourth Kind, while Paranormal haters will find what they're looking for in Fourth Kind," he says. "Our readers are even sick of hearing about it. All of the people who have already seen Paranormal are excited for Fourth Kind. I almost think it's helped them. I'm sure Universal is pissed, but I think they should be thanking the Gods of movies."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Back from the dead

It's late, and I'm bored, so I'm making this post just for the hell of it, since I've been bad about updating the blog (although Matt Lingo will be posting some AFI coverage soon). For some reason, the recent DirecTV commercial featuring footage from Tommy Boy and some new material with David Spade has been getting flak for trampling on Chris Farley's legacy. I think the ads are kinda clever; they may be crassly commercial (which is probably what turns people off more than anything), but that's because they are f---ing commercials. Had the spot digitized Farley into shilling the service, then perhaps the complainers would have a case, but personally, I find it more startling to see David Spade's chin looking a shade bloated. Regardless, Spade has said he thought of it as a tribute and it was apparently Farley's family's idea in the first place, so if you hate it, I'm letting you know you're wrong.

For reference, here's all the DirecTV commercials of the same ilk that I could find on YouTube. I bet they could get Danny DeVito to do one of these. And Dan Aykroyd in Ghostbusters. Maybe Carrie Anne-Moss in The Matrix. Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction. See? It's fun selling out your favorite films.

Aliens (1986)

American Pie (1999)

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

Back to the Future (1985)


"Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?"

The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)

King Kong (2005)

Misery (1990)

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

Poltergeist (1982)

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Tommy Boy (1996)

I mean, really, when all of this was said and done, it made me want to watch Tommy Boy (and Misery, for that matter), even if it didn't make me want DirecTV. In other words, quit whining, because I guess it sort of works.

Note to YouTube users: Apparently something being "banned" makes it more interesting, but 99% of commercials are not "banned". In fact, 99% of most things in the world aren't "banned". Stop making s--t up. I hope you guys get "banned" from YouTube.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

In Defense of Saw

Yeah, yeah, my last post was about Saw as well, but hey, if it's Halloween, it must be Saw. Here's a lightly extended version of an already lengthy comment I wrote on Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily post here about the series.


Man, people really take the term “torture porn” literally. I don’t like it, but the term is simply implying that is as exploitative of horror movie torture/bloodletting as regular porn is of sex. It doesn’t mean that it necessarily has any actual sex or nudity in it, just that people go to get their “torture”-loving rocks off at the sight of some violent death sequences.

That said, like any Saw fan would tell you, the real reason I go each year is to see how the plot develops. It’s like a crappy cop show, just with splatter. People are always derisive of this kind of statement, as if I have to have some sort of high-minded attitude to claim the Saw films have a plot to follow, but usually those are the people who didn’t bother to see the film and don’t like that kind of movie anyway. It’s okay not to like the Saw franchise, but you don’t need to go and decry it as some sort of bane on humanity just because your cinematic sensibilities are different from mine, especially since you haven’t gotten into it and never would, even under the best, most unbiased circumstances. I'll probably never watch The English Patient, but you don't see me hanging around generalizing to the world that it and other Oscar-bait pictures are repulsive.

I also think it’s ridiculous to imply that it’s good that horror is moving in a PG-13 direction. Not everything needs to be a Saw or a Hostel, nor does everything need push the gore envelope farther than the last, but bloodletting is part of the territory. The original A Nightmare on Elm Street is pretty bloody, but it’s a pretty classic genre picture, and the idea that PG-13 is better would stomp all over several of its greatest, creepiest scenes (like Amanda Wyss getting lifted out of the bed and dragged up the wall or Johnny Depp getting sucked into his bed). To say that horror should be less violent as a blanket statement is like saying action movies should have less guns and explosions, or that romances should scale back on the intimacy. Some of these movies that have come out in the last few years probably are torture porn, but you can’t just ball everything up into a category because you don’t like it without examining it. Again, I don't want to sound like I'm overanalyzing this into artsy-fartsy territory, but films like Hostel were made by auteurs trying to create something compelling and interesting to like-minded people, which is the right idea, even if some people can’t stomach it, and series like Saw are too over-the-top, really, to worry about (I mean, come on, someone gets melted in the latest one!). It’s PG-13 films like the Prom Night and Stepfather remakes (which always end up Unrated on DVD, to try to entice in the very same Saw crowds), which are artistically empty, financially motivated and poorly made that deserve to get canned.

Lastly, it’s ridiculous that anyone not interested would be so burdened by the Saw movies anyway. It’s like the inverse of having your cake and eating it too: you don’t like it, so nobody should have it. Just make an effort to stay out of the discussion. Did anyone see the movie’s most recent theatrical trailer? It was only 50 seconds long! The films are playing to the faithful, and the faithful alone, so in the age of TiVo, can’t you just ignore it?

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Dr. Gordon Factor

I'm betting (but don't want to know for sure -- don't tell me, a friend and I are gonna play it) that the recently-released Saw: The Video Game, at long last, ties off the plot of Dr. Lawrence Gordon, originally played by Cary Elwes in the original Saw.

In 2004, Elwesm supposedly at the prodding of his lawyer, sued Twisted Pictures for some unpaid back end, which caused bad blood between the actor and the films' producers. He eventually retracted the lawsuit, citing the lawyer's insistence and publicly stating he regretted it, but the damage was already done. Despite references to Dr. Gordon in almost all of the subsequent sequels, the actor is never seen or heard from again -- in Saw III brief vocal snippets are voiced by someone else and the character's face is covered when we see his unconscious body in the infamous bathroom, and in all of the other sequels, the character is neither seen or heard, only mentioned by others in passing.

Having just returned from Saw VI, I wonder how different the films would be if Dr. Gordon had made some sort of return appearance. Would they dispatched him in just a few minutes, or taken the time to weave Dr. Gordon into the plotline of each new film? Admittedly, he looks pretty boned at the end of Saw, but the franchise has begun to make a point of overturning every rock the camera even glanced at in order to add more strands to an ever-growing web of connections and plot twists.

In the event that the book, shockingly, is not closed by the video game, I wonder if the producers will ever let bygones be bygones and allow Dr. Gordon to make a reappearance. Historically, he seemed to be at the front of fans' minds when it came to the series, and the producers are kicking over the last few rocks. If there's only one more Saw movie (something I wouldn't bet on), I'd like it to go out with a bang -- or perhaps, more fittingly, put its best foot forward.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I feel the $10 leaving my wallet already.

2012 has a really stupid premise. It's head-punchingly stupid. Before I saw the trailer, I only had a vague peripheral awareness of the "2012 Mayan calendar conspiracy", so I asked a friend of mine who is far more knowledgeable than me more about it, and he made a point so simple that it really f---ing blows my mind that anything less than everybody in the entire world doesn't realize this right off the bat: The Mayan calendar has to end somewhere. It cannot go on forever.

Now that this incredibly obvious statement has been made to me, every trailer and line of dialogue referencing the fact that the "Mayan calendar proclaims" the world will end in 2012 makes me want to stab myself in the head with a sharpened pencil.

I also know that this movie, by the director of The Day After Tomorrow and the 1998 American Godzilla, cannot possibly be good. It just can't.

All that said, this is 5 solid minutes of the most destructive money-shot images ever put on film, and it is amazing. I saw what was essentially this clip in a slightly more trailerized version before Zombieland (which is a blast, by the way) and I was in helpless, slightly ashamed awe. F--- you, Sony. F--- you, Roland Emmerich. You win. You win.

Also, John Cusack yells "Donut!".

Monday, September 28, 2009

Park Chan Wook's Vengeance Trilogy: 11/24/09

Press release from Palisades Tartan popped up in my mail today. I had originally thought that this release was just going to be the three 1-discs with a box set sleeve over it, but I guess not.

The Ultimate Park Chan-Wook Vengeance Trilogy Box-Set
Palisades Tartan’s 8-Disc VENGEANCE TRILOGY box-set available in stores November 24th

LOS ANGELES — September 28, 2009 — For Immediate Release — You’ve been asking, we’ve been planning and this November Palisades Tartan will release the most exciting, impressive and comprehensive VENGEANCE TRILOGY box-set the world has ever seen! Featuring 8-discs and more special features then any other set on the planet (including the Korean version), celebrity essays as well as a few surprises, Palisades Tartan will release Park Chan-Wook’s VENGEANCE TRILOGY November 24th in DVD stores across the country.

SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE is the first film in Park Chan-Wook’s acclaimed Vengeance trilogy. The sister of a simple and deaf factory worker, Ryu, falls ill and needs a kidney transplant, however he is not a match so he looks to the black market which he can’t afford. After being fired from his job, his rebel girlfriend suggests that he kidnap the child of his former boss, Park. When the girl accidentally dies, her father seeks vengeance for her death.

OLDBOY is Park Chan-Wook’s classic genre-defining revenge tale of a man who’s wrongly been imprisoned for 15 years and is then suddenly released. Given money and a cell phone, he’s challenged to discover who incarcerated him in the first place, but he only has five days to uncover the truth. Even with a mysterious young girl to help him, his tortures have just begun. Cannes-winner championed by Tarantino, OLDBOY regularly appeared in top ten best movie polls across the country and is listed as one of the all-time best films as rated by IMDB users.

LADY VENGEANCE, the final film in the trilogy was created by Chan-Wook for his daughter. After being wrongfully convicted of kidnapping and murdering a young child, a beautiful young woman (Lee Young-ae) is imprisoned for 13 years. While in prison she gains the respect and loyalty of her fellow cellmates, all the while plotting her vendetta on the man responsible (OLDBOY’s Choi Min-Sik). Upon her release she sets in motion an elaborate plan of retribution, but what she discovers is a truth so horrifying, even revenge doesn’t seem punishment enough.

Director Park Chan-Wook’s most recent film THIRST won the Jury Prize at Cannes (2009) and was released in the US earlier this year by Focus Features. All three films in his celebrated Vengeance trilogy collection have garnered an impressive 28 Film Festival wins at prestigious venues including Cannes, Venice, Chicago, Fantasia, Stockholm, Hong Kong and the Sitges International Film Festival to name a few.

Each film is recorded in their original language (Korean) and offer English and Spanish subtitles. Each title is presented in anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS Surround Sound 5.1. Special features include an essay on each film by celebrated filmmakers, actors and writers, including Eli Roth. Additional features include but are not limited to: audio commentary by Park Chan-Wook and actor Ryoo Seung-wan, behind the scenes, “The Process of Mr. Vengeance”, “My Boksu Story”, storyboards, photo gallery, filmographies, film notes and crew interviews (SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE); three audio commentaries, five behind-the-scenes featurettes, “Le Grand Prix at Cannes” and deleted scenes with commentary (OLDBOY); regular and “Fade-To-White” versions, character interviews (Lee Geum Ja, Prof. Baek), “Prisoners”, “Families”, “Lady Vengeance at the 62nd Venice Film Festival”, trailer, film notes, making-of and deleted scenes (LADY VENGEANCE).

Tartan Films was originally founded in 1984 in the UK and is credited with bringing Asian Extreme film to the West as well as some of the most compelling art house films of the last quarter century. In May 2008, Palisades Pictures acquired Tartan Films US library assets and two months later, acquired a majority of Tartan Films UK’s 400+ film library assets. The new company Palisades Tartan has operations both nationally and internationally. Palisades Tartan will continue to expand an already distinctive and provocative slate of films by focusing on quality film acquisitions, thus significantly increasing the size of their overall library in both territories. Palisades Pictures and its parent company Palisades Media Corp is a prestigious financier of print & advertising for the independent film market. Together with its affiliate, Palisades Media Asset Fund, Palisades has securitized and financed more than 550 films.


Palisades Tartan Video
Genre: Thriller/Foreign
Rating: Not Rated (Special Features Not Rated/Subject to Change)
Language: Korean (English Subtitles)
Format: DVD Only / 8-disc (Box-set)
Running Time: Approximately 361 minutes (not including special features)

SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE – 129 min (not including special features)
OLDBOY – 120 min (not including special features)
LADY VENGEANCE – 112 min (not including special features)

Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Pre-Order Date: October 27th 2009
Street Date: November 24th 2009
Catalog #: TVD8307
UPC Code: # 842498000076

$50 for eight discs? That's a steal.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Remake Watch 2009: OLD NEWS and, yep, The Fly.

I know I open almost every post like this, but since I've started writing for Boxoffice.com I've become greatly distracted. Rest assured, content is coming. In the meantime, I have wheel-spinning link-lists to fall back on, like Remake Watch 2009. Here's a bunch of old news you've already heard about projects that are, except for one, not new to the Remake Watch 2009 count.

First up is 20th Century Fox's wonderfully moronic decision to reboot the Fantastic Four franchise, which they started in 2005. Yes, it's been FOUR WHOLE YEARS since the franchise started, and TWO WHOLE YEARS since the last entry, 2007's Rise of the Silver Surfer. Oh, the times, they are a-changin'. Via Variety.

Last time I reported on the live-action Akira remake, it was dying. I guess it's not so dead after all. Via Collider.

In actual good news, Joel and Ethan Coen have reunited with Big Lebowski star Jeff Bridges for their True Grit remake. They should actually make it a double remake and a sequel to Lebowski by retitling it The Dude Goes West. Via Variety.

The Highlander remake is runnin' on NOS! There can only be one Drift King when Fast & Furious director and would-be Oldboy remaker Justin Lin takes control of the project. ComingSoon.

Also, I read on my Twitter feed that David Cronenberg is rebooting The Fly. No confirmation yet, but I'll be sure to run back and edit this post if anything develops.

EDIT: The Hollywood Reporter's Risky Biz Blog is corroborating the Cronenberg remake story. I haven't yet figured out how to add this to the tally. Is this another remake of the original, or is Cronenberg remaking his 1986 version? I have no idea. It's kind of baffling, actually. THR mentions that Cronenberg can do new things with the visual effects, but the makeup work on the original, by Chris Walas (who directed The Fly II) and Stephan Dupuis, won an Oscar. I guess I'd like to think that Cronenberg has some crazy new idea for this one, and it won't actually be much like his Jeff Goldblum version other than the basic concept.

More importantly, where are they going to find someone as awesome and stunning as 1980's Geena Davis?

Remake Watch 2009:
28 film remakes announced
5 film remakes released
2 tv remakes released
2 reboots announced
2 reboots released
1 remakes announced/released direct-to-DVD
3 TV remakes announced

A "reboot" is defined by Remake Watch as a new attempt at a film series with new actors playing old characters (thus, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Race to Witch Mountain are excluded). Sequels to remakes (The Pink Panther 2, Halloween II) are ignored.

Ow. Ow. Ow.

That's the sound of me punching myself in the skull, because Universal is making a live-action Barbie movie.




[via The Hollywood Reporter]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

An Interview with Comedian Patton Oswalt

This interview took place via email on September 22nd, 2009, to promote Big Fan. I also added in a couple of questions that were asked at a Q+A at the Landmark Egyptian in Seattle, WA on September 18th.

Tyler Foster: As both a celebrity and a self-proclaimed nerd, it seems like you have the unique standpoint of seeing both Paul and Quantrell's side of the conflict. While Quantrell Bishop is clearly in the wrong for physically assaulting Paul, don't you think there's something weird about these guys following him around?

Patton Oswalt: Of course there’s something weird. That’s another reason I liked the script — everyone feels justified in their viewpoints and actions.

Tyler Foster: Do you get fans hassling you? Do you have some sort of personal line that they'd have to cross before you'd stop talking to them or wouldn't want to talk to them?

Patton Oswalt: Most of the time, when my fans meet me, they’re polite and smart. The few that are rude, I just sort of tune out, right in front of them, and they tend to walk away. I think the rude ones get a lot of that from everyone they meet, so I don’t come off as arrogant or mean.

Tyler Foster: Do you follow sports?

Patton Oswalt: No. I...view sports the way an autistic child looks at love. I watch it, and I understand that other people are happy, and I like that they're happy, but I just don't get it. To me, it's like watching a bunch of superheroes with no powers.

Tyler Foster: Did you attempt to do any research for the movie, perhaps in vain?

Patton Oswalt: Nope!

Tyler Foster: At the Q&A in Seattle, someone brought up that you had said previously that you do movies so that you can do the stand-up. This is a similar question, but that makes me wonder, how much personal investment do you have in or how much joy do you get out of acting?

Patton Oswalt: I get a lot of joy out of acting and writing. Anything I do creatively I try to put my heart and soul into. But why not have an overall goal in life?

Tyler Foster: Along those lines, most of your movie and TV roles are either by someone I might guess you'd consider a friend in the comedy community, like Observe and Report with Seth Rogen and Jody Hill, or someone with obvious prestige, like Pixar, or Steven Soderbergh (and Big Fan is both, since Siegel edited The Onion and wrote The Wrestler), so if it weren't for these people, would you just not really seek out any acting work?

Patton Oswalt: No, I’ve done plenty of acting work with and for people I didn’t know personally, and ended up getting along with famously. That’s how most acting works. But I definitely get movie roles because people come looking for me. It's not like I call up Pixar and go "today's your lucky day!"

Tyler Foster: Did you know Kevin Corrigan, Michael Rapaport or Siegel before signing onto this?

Patton Oswalt: I knew of Siegel, but I didn’t meet him until he gave me the script. I met the other guys on the film.

Tyler Foster: If Martin Scorsese calls up and says "I'd love for you to be in my movie in a small part, and we shoot it on Sunday" and you have a show on Sunday, do you reschedule the show or do you have to pass?

Patton Oswalt: I’d totally re-schedule the show. I’ve done that before — they always understand. I’d help them find someone to replace me, as well.

Tyler Foster: On your CDs, you always talk about doing all of these scripts you wrote, and I was just wondering if any of them were inching closer to being produced?

Patton Oswalt: Writing a movie and getting a movie made are two totally different things. I just found out that a screenplay that I wrote was rewritten by two different guys, and now two other guys are rewriting that version to make it more like the version I did originally. But I still do punch-up, I did some material for Funny People, and I'm still...'the guy' at DreamWorks, they'll call me up and I'll say, "wait, so this is the story of a donut that wants to be a bagel...?"

Tyler Foster: Can you tell us about any of the movies you did drafts on?

Patton Oswalt: No.

Tyler Foster: Since doing punch-up is, presumably, uncredited work, do you ever feel like you're just giving away material? Do you ever wish you had credit for some of these things when they come out the other end?

Patton Oswalt: I’m not giving it away if they pay me the profane sums they pay me, am I?

Tyler Foster: The IMDb trivia page for Big Fan has an awesome piece of trivia: "Director Robert D. Siegel has said that between takes in the strip club, while other members of cast and crew were enjoying the company of dancers, actor Patton Oswalt was watching episodes of "John Adams" (2008) on his iPod in a private room." Do you have any comment on this?

Patton Oswalt: I was actually re-watching Season 4 of "The Wire".

Follow @bigfan_movie on Twitter, befriend Patton Oswalt on facebook and MySpace, and go see Big Fan, in theaters now.

Special thanks to Gary Rubin of First Independent Pictures for making this happen.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thirst Contest

Updates to the blog have been intermittent since I started writing news for Boxoffice, and this isn't a particularly newsly news item, but it is pretty awesome. Palisades/Tartan is having a contest to win two tickets to fly to London and meet Oldboy/Thirst director Park Chan-wook! Two runners-up will also get a copy of The Vengeance Trilogy box set being released on November 24th, 2009.

You can enter the contest here and you are required to take me if you win. Yep.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Remake Watch 2009: Swamp Thing, The Blob

This stuff is all a few days old, but this isn't really a news site, and my new post at Boxoffice.com is eating up a considerable amount of my free time. Matt Lingo and Nathan Kerce should have Top 20s coming though, if you're actually checking this site for updates.

Collider reports that Joel Silver is developing a Swamp Thing remake. I feel like all of my knowledge of Swamp Thing is pretty peripheral. My friend had an elaborate action figure playset of Swamp Thing when we were younger, and I know the original DVD of Wes Craven's version was recalled because someone had used a version with a bunch of extra nudity in it, even though the film is rated PG. Other than that, my awareness is pretty low.

On the eve of Halloween II's release, Variety posted the news that Rob Zombie will be directing a remake of The Blob. I don't have much to say about that either. Frank Darabont and Chuck Russell's 1988 remake gets a lot of praise, but I have to say I only thought it was okay. The gore effects were amazing, though.

I'm updating the tally of released films in advance, because I'm not making a devoted post to the release of Sorority Row. Also, there's been a lot of chatter on The Crazies remake, but it was announced in 2008.

Remake Watch 2009:
28 film remakes announced
5 film remakes released
2 tv remakes released
1 reboot announced
2 reboots released
1 remakes announced/released direct-to-DVD
3 TV remakes announced

A "reboot" is defined by Remake Watch as a new attempt at a film series with new actors playing old characters (thus, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Race to Witch Mountain are excluded). Sequels to remakes (The Pink Panther 2, Halloween II) are ignored.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Remake Watch 2009: "Heathers"

Variety reports from the Bad Idea department at 20th Century Fox (i.e. all of 20th Century Fox) that they're developing a series based on the 1989 comedy Heathers and someone who worked on "Sex and the City" is writing for it.

Of all the remakes I've reported on this year, this easily ranks among the top 3 worst, just because the ideas and plot of Heathers absolutely do not lend themselves to weekly adventures. In fact, to have them do anything other than what happens in the movie would reduce them all to their most superficial elements. On one hand, Heathers is a movie that goes to dark, dark extremes in search of bleak comedy, and on the other hand, it's a show about a bunch of manipulative girls in a clique and the one outsider they've let in. Which of these angles do you think 20th Century Fox and a writer from "Sex and the City" are going to feel lends itself to an ongoing series?

Remake Watch 2009:
26 film remakes announced
4 film remakes released
2 tv remakes released
1 reboot announced
2 reboots released
1 remakes announced/released direct-to-DVD
3 TV remakes announced

A "reboot" is defined by Remake Watch as a new attempt at a film series with new actors playing old characters (thus, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Race to Witch Mountain are excluded). Sequels to remakes (The Pink Panther 2, Halloween 2) are ignored.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

20 Favorite Films (since 1992): Part 1b

I almost forgot: I also thought I'd throw in a ranking of Quentin's movies, since it only seems logical.

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)/Jackie Brown (1997)
[ 2-Disc DVD| 2-Disc DVD]
I go back and forth on which one of these two films is better, but either way, Jackie Brown is criminally underrated. It's Tarantino's most mature work, and it expertly blends both his trademark style and a set of more genuine characters. Unlike Marsellus Wallace or Bill, I believe that there are Ordell Robbies in the world. As Max Cherry, Robert Forster gives a great understated performance that is both believable and pure Tarantino. Also, even though their parts are limited, it represents some of the last respectable work Robert De Niro and Michael Keaton have done (and, curiously, some of the last work Bridget Fonda has done at all -- where have you gone, Bridget?).

As for Pulp Fiction, it's easy to forget the movie's brilliance, given how well-known and ingrained in the culture it has become. Yet, the opening diner conversation, the needle bit (starting when the phone rings in Eric Stoltz's house), Butch returning to his apartment, Phil LaMarr's short screen time and the character of Winston Wolf all remain some of the finest work Tarantino has ever done, directed, written, edited and performed to perfection.

2. Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof (2007) [Extended and Unrated]
[ 2-Disc DVD| Blu-Ray]
Like Jackie Brown, Death Proof remains criminally underrated by those with no patience. Maybe people just find the characters unlikable, but I happen to enjoy listening to them talk, because it's all clever, sharply-observed exposition or tension-building chatter, and like he does with most of his actors, he draws out one of Kurt Russell's best performances. Unlike Jackie Brown, though, I have little hope that I can convert people. Oh well. When Quentin is dead and people are studying his movies in 40 years, I think this is a wrong that will be at least modestly righted.

3. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Just as good at the tension-building and exposition, but the dialogue rarely has the full flair of Tarantino's usual lines, Eli Roth is terrible, and the film overall does feel a tad sparse. The third act is gangbusters though. I say as much, using a whole bunch of bonus words, in my full review.

4. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)/Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
[ DVD 1and 2| Blu-Ray 1and 2]
I like Kill Bill Vol. 1. One of the things holding me back from loving it might be that I'm not the biggest Uma Thurman fan. I'm not saying she's bad in the film; just that, as an actress, she's never really blown me away. Aside from her, the movie is a visually stunning, lightning-fast ride all the way through (at the very least, this is one of Quentin's most dazzling-looking movies).

I also like Kill Bill Vol. 2, but not as much as Vol. 1. Not because of the slower pace, mind you (I did just rank Inglourious Basterds, Death Proof and Jackie Brown above it, didn't I?), but because the Budd material isn't that interesting to me (although the grave punishment and his scene with Elle are good). I could also do without Michael Parks as Esteban, an extended speed bump on the home stretch of The Bride's revenge. These two things have gotta be at least 45 or more minutes of the movie. If the movie was just Pai Mei, Elle vs. The Bride, and David Carradine talking for two hours, it might have been my favorite of his films.

5. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
[ 2-Disc DVD| Blu-Ray]
Finally, I've never been that impressed by Tarantino's debut feature. I like it, but I've always felt like it was only running on 6 cylinders instead of 8. Frankly, if Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel weren't in it -- sorry, Steve -- I don't know if I'd have liked it at all.

Tarantino's Four Rooms segment is pretty good, although I'd consider it fairly non-essential, especially given that you would presumably have to sit through the first two segments of the movie to get to it and Rodriguez's. I also really enjoy both True Romance and From Dusk Till Dawn (which we need on Blu-Ray, stat).

Monday, August 24, 2009

20 Favorite Films (since 1992): Part 1

This video has already been widely posted across the internet, but here is Quentin Tarantino naming his 20 favorite movies since his first film Reservoir Dogs was released in 1992.

In response, I and the other Following Preview writers Matt Lingo and Nathan Kerce have created top 20 lists. Who knows when the others are coming; I tell them to write things and usually nothing happens. Here's my list, encapsulated in an unaltered post I made on the DVDTalk boards *which itself was taken from the CHUD boards), with short explanations about each title. Remember, this is a list of my twenty favorite movies, not the 20 best movies. There's a whole world of difference between those two words, and the latter is, of course, endlessly subjective. I made one change, which I posted at the bottom of the list.

As a bonus, there's a short bit of thought on what has been Tarantino's most controversial choice right before the notes about the change.


I think when you boil it down, a film can do two basic things: it can speak to you on a personal level, and it can be entertaining. Off the top of my head, here's 20 films made since 1992 that I feel I could sit down and watch at pretty much any minute because they fulfill both of those goals to some degree. The list might have been drastically different if I spent more time on it, but whatever. Everything on the list is a favorite, not a "best".

The main thing that may differentiate my list from others' is that, as per my second criteria, I tend to favor lighter movies over darker ones. Several dark movies, like Requiem For a Dream fell just short of my list because I didn't consider it a film that I could sit down and watch at the drop of a hat.

Almost Famous
[ DVD| 2-Disc DVD]
A potent reminder of the thrills and disappointments of meeting those you idolize. It's a movie that captures a lot of feelings, but I think that particular feeling is the one it captures the best.

Amélie (2001)
[ 2-Disc DVD]
Poetically written, performed with charm, directed with flair.

Battle Royale [Director's Cut] (2000)
Like Tarantino, I'm putting this one on my list. Even if the film is slowly being digested by its own hype machine (it is not banned in America and never was), I do think the violence hits home. Some of the movie (especially the scene in the lighthouse) is stomach-churningly brutal.

Casino (1995)
[ DVD| Blu-Ray]
A host of great performances in a visually dazzling setting.

Chasing Amy (1997)
[ DVD| Blu-Ray]
As someone else said, I don't really give a f--- what anyone thinks about Kevin Smith, and I think all four of his first films are pretty excellent. Since then, he's had highs and lows that are worth debating, but in the 90's, he made excellent movies.

Children of Men (2006)
[ DVD| Blu-Ray]
The most potent thing about the film is how firmly set in reality it is. It's hard to believe almost every part of the movie won't come true in some way or another, more than any other sci-fi movie I can think of at the moment.

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
[ DVD]
Admittedly, Jennifer Jason Leigh's character gets tiring to listen to, but I have always thought this was one of the Coen brothers' best movies. It's also perhaps the only one with dazzling production design and visuals. Not that I don't like The Big Lebowski or Fargo, and I almost put The Man Who Wasn't There instead, but I think this gets left by the wayside.

I ♥ Huckabees (2004)
[ DVD| 2-Disc DVD]
I don't want to make it out like this movie is excessively deep or meaningful, because it's not like I live my life by the principles of a very silly comedy movie, but I think people don't take what's being said seriously enough. You have to give the ideas in the movie enough weight so that you're seeing the events and thoughts the way the characters see them, but that doesn't mean it has to actually mean the same thing to you as it does to them. When it comes to an issue or topic like faith, I don't think people have the ability to see it both ways, as a lark, but a good-natured lark that one can give a little credence to. Which is ironic, because seeing something both ways is exactly what the movie is about.

J.S.A.: Joint Security Area (2000)
[ DVD]
Another one where I agree with Tarantino. J.S.A. is the Jackie Brown of Park Chan-Wook's films: underappreciated and amazing.

Jackie Brown (1997)
[ 2-Disc DVD]
I like a leisurely film, and the first two-thirds of Jackie Brown really take their time. Robert Forster is excellent.

Léon: The Professional [International/Director’s Cut] (1994)
[ 2-Disc DVD]
A great protagonist and a great antagonist, performed with panache.

magnolia (1999)
[ 2-Disc DVD]
I wish other films this long were paced this well. Starting with Aimee Mann's cover of "One", the film moves like a singular force across the screen, and it has the hypnotic narration of Ricky Jay to boot.

The Mist [Black and White Version] (2007)
[ 2-Disc DVD| Blu-Ray]
Scoff if you want, but I think this movie is excellent. To me it felt like a spiritual cousin to Night of the Living Dead, and the black and white version only adds to that.

Office Space (1999)
[ DVD| Blu-Ray]
The epitome of an easy-to-watch movie. The actual plot sucks, but the movie breezes by and remains funny regardless of how often Comedy Central plays it.

Primer (2004)
[ DVD]
One of the rarest kinds of movies: a movie that almost reflexively insists you watch it again right after it's over.

The Science of Sleep (2006)
[ DVD]
A purely personal favorite. Unlike most of the other movies I listed, I don't expect others to share the sentiment, at least not on the same level (I bet most people will find it impenetrably quirky) or see in it what I see in it, and I don't care.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
[ DVD| Blu-Ray]
I considered picking Hot Fuzz because of how excellent Edgar Wright's direction is, but Shaun just barely edged it out because it feels a little more fine-tuned.

The Signal (2007)
[ DVD| Blu-Ray]
Another completely personal favorite. It seems like few people saw this one and those who did didn't think it was that great, but I really, really liked it.

Toy Story 2 (1999)
[ 3-Disc DVD]
Woody as a collectible is one of, if not the best idea that Pixar has ever had, as far as I'm concerned. It really is genius.

The Truman Show (1998)
[ DVD| Blu-Ray]
Jim Carrey's best performance. I feel like he's a little too aware of the potential accolades in Man on the Moon, but here he really gives it his all, earnestly and honestly, elevating an already-good movie.

I saw Anything Else several years ago, and I didn't think it deserved the kind of flak it took. When I saw the trailer, though, I had the same reaction to Jason Biggs as Devin from CHUD did. I don't know what changed between the time I saw the trailer and the time I saw the movie. I haven't watched it since, but I thought Scoop and Hollywood Ending were worse than Anything Else (the former because it was basically just depressing to watch how long Woody would fumble to come up with a joke).

The one change I made to this list was swapping The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou for I ♥ Huckabees. Here's the short blurb I wrote about Zissou:

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)
I see Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums on other lists, and I think they're great movies, but I have always felt like the pacing of the former stutters and that Zissou is funnier than Tenenbaums while retaining most of the emotional punch.

Note: Seemingly in response to the internet's reaction to Anything Else on Tarantino's list, Roger Ebert made it his "Overlooked DVD of the Week" the same week Inglourious Basterds opened.