Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Duchess

The wretched AOL Moviefone has the exclusive new teaser of Keira Knightley's The Duchess.

Hopefully someone will put it on YouTube soon.

I think it looks much better than The Other Boleyn Girl myself. The costumes are to die for, particularly that feathered cavalier hat. And her hair! Maybe Knightley can bring back voluminous curls.

I like Keira Knightley. I really do wish people would stop picking on her about her weight. It shouldn't reflect on her professional work in the slightest, and I think it's appalling it came up so much in reviews of Atonement. I saw her Singapore Pirate outfit on display and while I know it's a lot of layers, it was hardly anorexic sized.

She reminds me of a friend I had who could not, no matter what she did, put on weight. She had to have her shoes custom made because she had no fat or muscle to protect her bones. School was torture for her, people stopped her on the streets urging her to seek help for her anorexia. Whether you are excessively thin or excessively fat, people seem to think it's all right to call you out. It's poor form.

Well, rant over. I think this looks interesting. She has the perfect accent for an ancestor of Princess Diana. I'm looking forward to it, if only for the costumes. And the sex scenes, those look hot too.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

And now for something completely different....


After languishing indoors for most of the fall movie season, I am finally catching up with all the lovely holiday releases...

First up was Atonement which I find myself shrugging off a week later. It IS good--the acting is impeccable, it's beautifully shot, it's elegantly historical and yet the ending is so galling as to just make me despise the entire film. I know that has more to do with the book than the movie, but it is enough to strip the romance from it entirely. Do NOT go looking for a happy ending, or even a bitter sweet ending. It is a kick to the gut, jaw-clencher of a finale.

Keira Knightley seems to be drawing mixed reviews. For every glittering accolade and award nomination, someone else is calling her a talentless anorexic. Personally, I thought she was very good, so subtle as to be easily blown off. She has become polished and mature, miles away from Elizabeth Swann. It's a stark contrast to her doppleganger, Natalie Portman, who still comes off like an uncertain little girl in the majority of her roles (yes, even Closer). I wouldn't have bought Portman in this role, but Knightley carries it off. It's obviously a matter of confidence and comfort.

I still find myself wondering where Romola Garai's early promise went. She's completely blank in this, as she has been in every BBC adaptation. She seems to think just changing from stunningly pretty to dowdy is acting enough.

James MacAvoy is utterly heartbreaking. There must be something in the Scottish water that churns out these men with strong chins and beautiful, tear-filled eyes.

The next night, I caught Blade Runner: The Final Cut. It was stunning. It's a shame Warner Bros. didn't do a wider release as this would have benefited from enormous screens and top notch sound. Seeing it in a small art house theatre simply didn't do it justice. I only wish The Final Cut didn't come with all that "Deckard is a Replicant" baggage. Ridley Scott, leave that kind of garbage to George Lucas.

December 21st found me making a tough call between Sweeney Todd and P.S. I Love You. Not surprisingly, my future husband won out, as did a desire to avoid the unwashed Johnny Depp crowd. I've had my fill of smeared eyeliner on weedy boys and girls, thank you.

I liked it, but I was hoping to love it.

P.S. I Love You suffers from a lack of Butler. I say this not because he's the love of my life, but because he is practically the title character. There needed to be some illness between life and death--perhaps not a deathbed scene, but at least the shock of a diagnosis. (I personally longed for his deathbed scene but I'm a glutton for anguish.) We needed to see him make the travel arrangements for Holly. (A heartwrenching scene in the book.) We needed more letters.

When adapting the book, they needed to make one of two choices: make it the provincial Irish story or relocate it completely. Trying to do both hampered the entire story. Had Ms. Ahern not been the Prime Minster's daughter, they probably would have set it in America.

Ahern's book was also problematic in that the characters were so very young. Butler and Swank are both older and more mature than the original Gerry and Holly, so it seems unlikely that neither would have a decent job or life plan at this point in their lives. In the book, Gerry was a professional of some kind and made good money, this needed to be kept in rather than youthening him via unemployment. It would also have explained Holly's perpetual unemployment, which just seems rather lame in the movie.

No matter how you adapted the book or who you cast, Holly Kennedy was always going to be problematic. Ahern herself is very young, and she always writes heroines who have no real independence. They have no schooling and vague fantasy jobs. Holly had neither, was utterly dependent on Gerry, and has to scramble to make a life for herself. That is never going to be swallowed by a film audience. (Though I know plenty of girls my age who are in precisely the same boat.) Hilary Swank's Holly is a curious blend, managing to be both responsible and helpless. While it's entirely believable that she lost track of herself just trying to make ends meet, she never quite seems lost or poor enough. And giving her a troubled family history just seems unnecessarily cruel. Unlike a lot of reviewers, I think Swank was a solid choice, it was just that her character needed to be tightened up. Holly Kennedy should have been stronger to make her collapse that much more devastating.

I am sounding quite cruel. It's a sweet film, it really is, and I got choked up numerous times. (Variety says this is because I am an emotional cripple. Ah well.) It was mostly because I want to wake up to a Gerry (Butler) of my own, even if that would mean an early death by one of us. (Preferably me, a'la Rachel Weisz.) There are also some very funny moments--I think Butler should make a point of referencing his balls in all his films. And the shots of Ireland are breathtaking. If Sweeney Todd is sold out (or jam-packed with stinky Hot Topic kids), you could do worse than seeing this. Go just for the strip tease.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Now THAT'S how you wear a fedora!

Damn, the Internet is just buzzing with new trailers left and right this week!

Today is Nim's Island, the family action-adventure starring Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin, and the love of my life, Gerard Butler.

It's being hosted on Yahoo Movies. Watch it. I'm usually skeptical of Walden Media but this looks really fun. Not the least because Gerard Butler wears that Indy outfit through the whole thing.

It makes me want to strap on my Lara Croft gunbelt, lace up my New Rocks and just go on all kinds of sexy adventures with Alex Rover.

I'm way more excited for this than the childhood-destroying Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Oh yeah, I went there.

More Wall*E, Yet Not Enough

This is a good month for trailers. Wall*E has one too!

WALL-E Exclusive Trailer

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It's beautiful and heart wrenching, just like all the Wall*E footage thus far. I love his little voice. There's more than a little R2-D2 and E.T. in his animation, which makes me love him all the more. He just breaks my heart.

Incidentally, Harry also has posted a recap of the footage premiered at BNAT 9. I'm not alone in sniffling over this little robot, apparently everyone was left in tears after the last clip shown.

There's also a new viral website up for BuyNLarge, the company that runs the world in the future of Wall*E. It's a site full of social snark.

Who started this trend of viral marketing? Was it The Dark Knight? Someone else? It's quite interesting and, I'm sure, will be overplayed in the near future. But it's fun while it lasts.

It put a smile on MY face...

The Dark Knight's official trailer is up at A Taste for the Theatrical. (Be sure to click on the "Download Now" graphic, the Joker's a little vague.)

Go watch it. Geek out majorly. It is seriously the COOLEST trailer I have seen since 300. I've shown it to everyone I know. If I could show it to my dog, I would. (He's a bit too young, I think.)

The Joker hanging out of a police car, blissed out?
Rachel Dawes smacking him up?
"You've got some fight in you...I like that!"

It's the stuff a fanboy or girl's dreams are made of.

I've got to say...I don't think that's lipstick on the Joker's face.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The X-Files: This is a Conspiracy, Right?

I said there were two films. The other is the untitled X-Files movie.

I was convinced I was safe, that it was all David Duchovny's fevered publicity, until they started filming it last week.

Wait--WHAT? Come again? Did I just...oh, there's even photos to prove it. And here I was hoping it was a bad dream.

I loved The X-Files. I owned the books. The posters. The t-shirts. The Scully haircut. I spent hours theorizing with friends and family about What It Was All About. I went as Agent Scully for Halloween--a costume which, I realize now, heralded more elaborate attempts like Queen Gorgo.

In fact, there's a deep dark chapter of my past which involves me, that Scully suit, and a few Trek conventions. Throw in a misadventure with an Imperial Stormtrooper, an appearance in the official X-Files Magazine, and you have one of the geekiest sagas ever created.

But that all ended. My love for it died out completely, as Chris Carter smoked a bunch of weed (probably lit with $100 bills from the merchandising), wrote those last two seasons and then laughed in our faces. Our years of theorizing were wasted as we learned...well...none of us ever did figure it out, except that it SUCKED.

For years, they promised a film. And no one really gave a crap because frankly, Fight the Future was terrible, the beginning of the end. We only pretended it wasn't until it became apparent Carter had no concept of "continuity" or "plot."

The X-Files faded away, a pop culture relic we all wondered if we should feel vaguely embarrassed about. Gillian Anderson vanished into United Kingdom obscurity and Duchovny claimed to be "in talks" every single time he was promoting a project of his own.

And now, just like that, we've got a movie. And a cast that includes Amanda Peet and Xzibit. Because nothing says high class science fiction like Amanda Peet and Xzibit. Remember the days when huge stars lusted after a part on the show?

Apparently, it's a stand alone, monster-of-the-week story...not that they have a choice, they don't remember any of that UFO malarkey either.

It's just...WHY? The show became a blueprint of what NOT to do in a sci-fi show. It comes up every time we wonder if LOST has gone off the rails. Just like with Indy 4, it's like the JJ Abrams and Joss Whedon accolades have been gnawing at the soul of Chris Carter and he's determined to prove he's Still Got It. And I think the answer to "Does he?" lies in the fact that both Abrams and Whedon have never lacked for work or praise. Whedon even managed to get Serenity made, whereas Carter can barely crack the headlines when he begins filming The Untitled X-Files Sequel.

The ship has sailed, leaving the smoldering wreck of the show behind it. Why dig it up? One might argue that it cannot possibly be ruined further, but I think the fact that you went from Robert Patrick to Xzibit says oh yes you can. As one former X-Phile put it, "If they could make a movie to undo the mess of the last two season, ok. But its not and so, who cares?"

And the fact is, I still have good memories of Mulder and Scully. The show might have sucked, the answers may never have come...but they still stayed true. They were still cool. The last thing I want to see is a middle-aged pair of FBI Agents desperately trying to look competent and like nothing with aliens or miracle babies ever happened.

It's just like watching Indy try to ride again. Let heroes retire in peace and stand as examples for new characters and new talent to follow.

Indiana Jones and the Girl Who Cried Please God, No.

There are two movies on the horizon that make my blood boil.

One is Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.

Wow, Indy. You look younger than in Raiders of the Lost Ark!

Indiana Jones is a franchise I hold near and dear to my heart. I grew up on it. In fact, Raiders was one of the first movies I was ever subjected to, as my mom saw it when she was pregnant with me. It's a famous legend in my family, retold every time we watch the movie. When that boulder came crashing down after Indy--in the new Dolby sound--the entire theatre shook, and my mom reports I did panicked somersaults. They were sure they had killed me or turned me clinically retarded.

Personally, I'll bet my infant self wasn't scared--I was excited and pissed off I couldn't watch it for another five years.

My mom believes it had another effect. She has remarked that clearly, I became a deskchair archaeologist due to this in-utereo dose of Indiana Jones. Last Christmas, after bestowing the DVD set on me, she had a new theory. "Raiders made you what you are," she said. "It gave you all the--I don't know, terminology for what you became."

"A fangirl?"

"Yeah. A fangirl. You and your sister's love of film came from me and your dad, you were born with it. You were raised on movies and we didn't shelter you, we just plopped you in front of more and I figured if you had nightmares from their faces melting, I'd know you were too sensitive for that kind of thing..."

"But it's more than that! Raiders did something to you." And then she burst out laughing. "I really screwed you up! This is where you developed your problems with men. I made you into Marion Ravenwood! And unless Indiana Jones walks through that door, you're screwed!"

"Yeah. Yeah, you're right. Great!"

"Still," she said. "I'd rather you be Marion Ravenwood and be able to clock Indy in the jaw for screwing you over than some a girl who would just take it. I like the way my girls turned out."

Thus, it was no accident I started emulating that other archaeological bad girl, Lara Croft? Why clock Indy when you can shoot him?

I'm certainly not unique in having my entire childhood defined by a bullwhip and a fedora, but I seem to be in the minority of wanting my memory to remain the warm sunset of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

I mean...they rode off into the sunset. What else could you ask for?

A fourth movie, apparently.

I don't want it. I don't want to see Marion Ravenwood as a (possible) single, dumped mother. She's the cool chick in the red lipstick, immaculately Girl Friday, who is sassy enough to comfort Indy with booze. And I refuse to believe she would ever give birth to a stuck-up prat like Shia LeBeouf, or let him run around with Wolverine hair. Indy's son would look like this:

I don't want to see cranky Harrison Ford try to convince me he's still cool enough to be Indiana Jones. He's not. Don't make me drag out Hollywood Homicide to prove it.

Most of all, I don't want to be abused emotionally and spiritually by George Lucas. Let's not forget, he approved the final script. That paragon of writing who brought us Jar Jar Binks picked the script because of a MacGuffin...a term no one has used since what, 1955?

Look, Lucas, it's nothing personal. No wait, it is. You destroyed Star Wars!

And while I still admire Steven Spielberg, the fact is that he hasn't done an adventure flick in years. He brings us drama, not the fantastic, and sees flaws in his early work that makes me cry. I was terribly traumatized by his revamp of E.T. and now, he's threatening to do it again. Plus he's foisting Shia LeBeouf on me. Not cool.

I refuse to have any faith. There is nothing about this project that gives me any hope. Not the plot leaks, not the dapper smiles at San Diego ComicCon, not the cast, and certainly NOT the title. I guess there could be some kickass trailer that will leave me groveling--and I'll eat this post if there is--but frankly...I just don't want this movie. It smacks of Spielberg, Lucas, and Ford proving they still have it, a big "pfft, whatever!" to Peter Jackson, Gore Verbinski and Christopher Nolan--the three directors I feel have inherited the "blockbuster franchise" crown with Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean and Batman. And that's still excluding directors like Zack Snyder, Guillermo del Toro, and Alfonso Cuaron who have given us some pretty amazing films in the last year.

Instead, Indy 4 has the whiff of the current fad of trying desperately to revive the big 80's careers. First Stallone, then Willis, now Ford.

Your day is done, boys. Your glory is preserved on DVD. Let the future belong to Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, and Gerard Butler. The world demands new heroes. Indiana Jones is far from passe, but I want to see what other legends are waiting to be made onscreen.

I know the original Indy trilogy will always be there for me, no matter what horrors this fourth film holds. I can still enjoy the original Star Wars trilogy, pretending the prequels were all just a bad dream. But the world will be just a little worse knowing its out there.