Film Fatale Archive for June, 2007

Bored With Torture Horror? You're Not Alone


In 1408, John Cusack doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in him.

Was it the web piracy of the HOSTEL sequel, the overexposure of director Eli Roth, market saturation of torture-porn horror, that led to the film’s underwhelming box office performance?
Among this weekend’s releases: 1408, the Stephen King adaptation starring an ideally cast John Cusack as a supernatural-debunker who dares to stay in a haunted hotel.
When 1408 comes out near the top of the heap, expect a bloodbath of Monday morning box office analysis declaring the death of slasher movies and the demand for suspense-driven terror. The next test for hard core horror is CAPTIVITY, already notorious for its Los Angeles billboard campaign. Starring Elisha Cuthbert as a fashion model in a SAW-like predicament, the movie’s been pushed to mid-July.

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SICKO Piracy: If Only Health Care Were Free, Too

Michael Moore’s new documentary SICKO – an exploration of the US’s health insurance mess – has been pirated and downloadable for free over the weekend.
Bad news for the Weinstein brothers, who have (as Miramax and now as Weinstein Co.) long supported Moore’s non fiction films. But director Moore says he’s more interested in getting people talking about health care solutions. The New York Times quotes him as saying, “I don’t agree with the copyright laws and I don’t have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it with people as long as they’re not trying to make a profit off my labor.”
The film went over well at the Cannes Film Festival, and the issue is a hot one in the upcoming US presidential election. (My home state of Massachusetts has just begun a program of universal health insurance: it’s better than nothing. But it isn’t cheap.)
Read more about SICKO.
The New York Times: here
Movie City News: David Poland

Projectionist Framed! "Memflix" Sacked For Web Review

I am shocked – shocked! – to discover that there’s a cinema projectionist out there who actually stays in the booth to watch the movie, even during a critics’ preview screening.
Usually they just press ‘start’ and fall back to sleep or walk away, leaving the grouchy/whiney reviewers to wonder just how much more out of focus the print could get.
No, it seems Memphis’ Malco Theatre chain had an actual movie fan in their employ, a dangerous person named Jesse Morrison who not only watched the films, but wrote about them for Ain’t It Cool News under the none too subtle nom de plume Memflix. After working an early screening of Fox’s FANTASTIC FOUR: SILVER SURFER, Morrison wrote a scathing review that was posted on Ain’t It Cool.
As the Hollywood Reporter tells it, the studio got mad, found duplicate reviews on Morrison’s blog, and made angry phone calls to Malco’s management. Now he’s been suspended.
Says the 29 year old film and video student, “I’m hoping to get a job as a professional movie reviewer.”

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Get a Clue With The New Nancy Drew: Emma Roberts


For female readers of crime fiction, there’s one name who got you hooked: Nancy Drew. Sleuth (a cool word for detective). Titian haired (you had to look that one up).
A brainy girl with a keen sense of adventure — “as sharp as Miss Marple and as brave as Emma Peel – all while navigating the perils of girlhood. For 75 years and in dozens of books, graphic novels and video games, she has never failed to crack a case or outwit a villain.
That’s why casting the title role in the big-screen NANCY DREW opening Friday, was key: beyond her titian hair and penny loafers, everybody has a different idea of just who Nancy is and how she should look.”
Warner Bros. new NANCY DREW (with Nickelodeon-minted starlet Emma Roberts) is fine-tuned for the ‘tween girls who’d like to think they’re the first to discover their crime-solving heroine, and their big sisters, moms and grandmothers who’ve been enjoying the books for decades. Opening this weekend against FANTASTIC FOUR: SILVER SURFER and the kickass DOA: DEAD OR ALIVE, this kind of teen-girl adventure won’t be a blockbuster. But it will make a movie star out of young Roberts.
I doubt that her young fans will appreciate the comparison, but her Nancy Drew — transported by the screenwriters from River Heights, U.S.A. to Los Angeles — does more serious, nuts and bolts private investigating than a Raymond Chandler hero.

Cinemax Doc: "Have You Seen Andy?"


Cinemax’s Reel Life documentary series begins with HAVE YOU SEEN ANDY? Melanie Perkins first-person exploration of the unsolved crime that has haunted her life — and the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts.
The 1976 disappearance of 10 year old Andy Puglisi – Perkins’ childhood friend – gives the lie to the idea that kids of today have so much more to fear than we did. The past wasn’t a more innocent age. It was simply a more ignorant one.
Check this one out, Tuesday, June 12 at 7 pm (check Cinemax’s site for repeats)

The Sopranos: "It Goes On and On"

Watch it again for the communal “Huh?”

The Sopranos. Episode 86 “Made in America”

Brattle Theatre's Trailer Competition

Think you can cut a great trailer. Or a totally cliched trailer? (thank you, late, lamented Modern Humorist)?
Cambridge’s Brattle Theatre wants to hear from you. Inspired by South By Southwest’s trailer competition for GRINDHOUSE, The Brattle Theatre Foundation is holding a TRAILER SMACKDOWN this month. The catch — the trailer can’t be for any old movie. To level the playing field, the contest requires that entrants create a trailer for an “as-yet-unmade movie called “MIRANDA.” Each filmmaker will be required to incorporate certain elements (genre, location, character, etc.) in their trailer which can be no longer than 2 minutes”
For more details, see the Brattle’s website,

UNITED 300 Wins MTV Prize

Go Tell The Spartans…

MTV challenged viewers to create movie trailers spoofing their favorite films of the year, and the results may not have been, overall, as polished as the best mashups of 2007. But the clear frontrunner was the polished and borderline offensive UNITED 300, which had the Spartans fight back against German (!) terrorists who’d taken over commuter flight.
Director Andy Signore, in his acceptance speech, was quick to deflect charges of bad taste, dedicating the trophy both to Zack Snyder and Frank Miller’s graphic novel thriller and those who’d fought back against real life tyranny.


NASA's Weird, Michael Bay-ish Back To the Moon Promo

Have you seen NASA’s ominous promotion for its Back to the Moon project?
As Clive Thompson of Collision Detection writes, somebody’s been watching too much Battlestar Galactica — there’s something strangely threatening about the trailer — not just the booming, minor key music, but the text, too: “We took a giant leap…We stopped…Now we’re going back” (To do what? Finish off whatever we didn’t kill the first time around? Blow up the moon people if they get lippy with us?)
With all the robotic Rovers zooming across the CGI lunar surface, doesn’t this trailer look an awful like the early promos for TRANSFORMERS?

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon