It’s been a few years, but the inimitable Wong Kar Wai is back with a new film. Eschewing the fashion-plate romanticism of In the Mood for Love that made him en vogue with the culturati, he’s now returning to the impressionist wuxia films of his earlier career (Ashes of Time and such). The Grandmaster looks to be a full-on period martial-arts blowout, starring Zhang Ziyi and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, last seen on this side of the Pacific in John Woo’s epic Red Cliff.
Weinstein Company is planning for an August 2013 release, but don’t be surprised if that gets pushed back when the director decides to do some more editing or shoot additional footage.
Here’s the trailer:
This afternoon, the New York Film Critics Online (an august group that I am glad to be a member of) announced their awards for films released in 2012. Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, led a fairly scattered pack, with three awards. Steven Spielberg’s biopic Lincoln and debut filmmaker Benh Zeitlin’s magic-realist Beasts of the Southern Wild were tied at two awards each.
Herewith the full list:
- Picture - Zero Dark Thirty
- Actor - Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
- Actress - Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
- Director - Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
- Best Supporting Actor - Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
- Best Supporting Actress - Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
- Breakthrough Performer - Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Debut Director - Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Ensemble Cast - Argo
- Screenplay - Zero Dark Thirty
- Documentary - The Central Park Five
- Foreign Language - Amour
- Animated - Chico and Rita
- Cinematography - Life of Pi
- Film Music or Score - Django Unchained
This gives Bigelow’s war film an early lead in the oddsmaking for Oscar contention (and for good reason, despite whatever idiot musings come from Bret Easton Ellis these days), as the NYFCO joins other critics groups like New York Film Critics Circle, National Board of Review, and the Boston Film Critics Society in naming it film of the year. Of course, that still leaves plenty of time and other awards to allow early favorites like Les Miserables and Argo to make up some room.
Strangely, given both the rather towering presence that the film The Wizard of Oz holds in world cultural consciousness and the current mania for sequels and films based on proven properties, it’s been decades since anybody has tried to make another film based on the L. Frank Baum series. There’s over a dozen books there, filled with strange worlds and CGI-worthy beasties to turn into multiplex 3D and IMAX gold. The sour memory of Walter Murch’s then-failed but now 1985 cult classic Return to Oz holds a powerful sway over studio heads, it seems.
But next spring, Disney (which holds film rights to the entire series) is getting back into the Oz business. Sam Raimi is at the helm of Oz: the Great and Powerful, with James Franco (who he directed in the Spider-man series) starring as the young Wizard, who gets swept away to Oz in a balloon years before young Dorothy is even born. There is some great potential here for a sweeping new kind of fantasy filmmaking, but also for an imagination-starved Tim Burton-esque detour into design and animation for its own sake.
Either way, the trailer is up now and shows that at least Raimi is borrowing the trick of using color stock for Oz and black-and-white for Kansas:
Now, there were many things to dislike about the 1984 Red Dawn, that hopped-up NRA-ad of a John Milius Cold War teen empowerment fantasy. The generally atrocious sub-Brat Pack acting (looking at you, C. Thomas Howell). The idea that Soviet armored divisions could pour into the country across the Bering Strait to hook up with Nicaraguan paratroopers who took the Rocky Mountains(!). Thinking that entire units of Spetsnaz could be taken out with ease by some high school kids with AK-47s and Wolverine letter jackets.
Of course, there were also many things to love about that movie. The opening scene with paratroopers drifting down outside a classroom’s windows. Harry Dean Stanton bellowing, “Avenge me!” from behind the prison camp wire. That strangely touching subplot about the war-weary Cuban colonel (played with some gravitas by Super Fly himself, Ron O’Neal). Thinking that entire units of Spetsnaz could be taken out with ease by some high school kids with AK-47s and Wolverine letter jackets.
But now, since Hollywood is apparently bereft of all new ideas and must recycle, recycle, recycle, they’ve decided to take a film best left in the dustbin of beloved adolescent classics and dust it off in an entirely irrelevant way for a new generation. To make things even more preposterous, in a time when the United States isn’t locked in pseudo-conflict with a country that has a massive conventional army, in the remake the Commie invaders hail from … North Korea.
Max Fischer at The Atlantic points out the many, many, many absurdities of this premise, going well beyond North Korea’s staggering “poverty and military weakness,” here.
Trailer for the apparently entirely humorless remake is below, showing only that Chris Hemsworth is no Patrick Swayze:
Trailer for the original is here:
A lot of the initial buzz that’s going to swirl around Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master will center on whether it’s inspired by Scientology. It’s easy to see why: the 1950s setting, the cultish leader who poses as a hybrid master of all disciplines, the dark threads of systematized paranoia and neurosis. But if the trailer is any indication — lush visuals, Joaquin Phoenix in full Walk the Line meltdown and Philip Seymour Hoffman owning the screen in that sulphuric Talented Mr. Ripley fashion — focusing on that subject alone could sidetrack attention from the potentially genius qualities of what could be the film of the year.
Check it out:
It’s something that would have been hard to conceive of just 5-10 years ago. But the filmmaking landscape is now so fractured that apparently even quixotic projects like this are able to line up millions of dollars in funding and movie stars galore.
The hard-to-categorize adaptation of David Mitchell’s mind- and time-twister of a novel Cloud Atlas – which stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Keith David, Jim Broadbent, is directed by Tom Tykwer of Run Lola Run fame and written by the Wachowskis (The Matrix) – has been winding its way toward the big screen for a while. Now with an October release date set, the first trailer has been released. This could either be one of those epic disasters of overreach or the kind of thing that leaves people just shattered.
Great, terrible, or mediocre in its final execution, what can be seen in the trailer just takes your breath away:
Deadline reported yesterday that Peter Jackson is considering making The Hobbit into a trilogy. Jackson is considering taking the Appendices that were published at the back of The Return of the King (which he calls essentially notes for a planned rewrite of The Hobbit which would have incorporated a lot of material that Tolkien came up when writing his later trilogy) and using that as a basis for the third film.
For Lord of the Rings film junkies, this might be good news; more the better. And the studio would certainly be delighted. For those of us who are fans of the mythos as a whole and didn’t necessarily think that Return of the King was enriched by its fourth ending, it could be a potential sign of trouble: empowered auteur on the loose! Jackson’s artistry as a whole has been terrific, but it does begin to wear on one after a while in a way that Tolkien’s dense style never quite does. The films are never quite able to hit those light, cheery notes as well as the books can, focusing over-much on the battles and melodrama.
Maybe instead of a third Hobbit film, they should be talking about doing something with The Silmarillion? Yes, it’s more mythology than fiction, but plenty of story to go around. And let’s be honest, it would be incredible to see what Jackson could come with for the sacking of Gondolin and the tragedy of Beren and Luthien.
A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.
In this strangely productive phase of Quentin Tarantino’s career — remember those six years he took off between Jackie Brown and Kill Bill: Vol. 1? – one has to take the great with the not-so-great. The man has never been accused of trying too little, and so for every neo-masterpiece like Inglorious Basterds there’s an overdone mess like Kill Bill: Vol. 2.
With this in mind, one needs to be sanguine about what awaits us in his Christmas release, Django Unchained. Certainly there’s something to be eager for in a film that looks to be part spaghetti western homage and part blaxploitation revenge flick (though the gleaming Robert Richardson cinematography doesn’t look quite grimy enough for a proper homage), and also features Samuel L. Jackson with a frightening set of eyebrows and the prospect of Leonardo di Caprio having more fun on screen than Christoph Waltz.
Either way, the new trailer is set to James Brown, so it works.