Take a break from this summer’s blockbusters with a refreshing Gothic thriller from Sofia Coppola starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell. The Beguiled is sure to be a beautifully disturbing change of pace.
It’s that time again where an old-yet-familiar intellectual property gets the time tested, sometimes proved, sometimes failed reboot. As many of you are assuredly aware, The Amazing Spider-Man gets brought to the silver screen, only now it’s more of an adaptation of the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, in which he was younger, in high school, but still trying on the tights. This Spider-Man seems to be focused around getting us to watch this origin story yet again. This time they’re dangling the elusive prospect of “hidden secrets” about Spider-man we’ve never seen before. From what the preview material would have you believe, it has something to do with his parents and how they died, and implies they were murdered. Were his parents cruel Colombian drug lords? New Yorker mob hits? Genetic scientists experimenting on human/spider DNA fusion? Well, probably not that last one, I hope. Whatever the reason, they’re deliberately trying to bring some freshness and possible subversion of expectations this go ’round.
This Spider-Man totally loves dubstep bro. WUB WUB WUB.
I have to admit, I’m still skeptical about the direction of the whole thing. For every moment or line that they get right, another rubs me the wrong way. I suppose it’s a feeling similar to the much ballyhooed “event fatigue” that many Marvel fans claimed to be suffering from, starting with 2006’s Civil War, continuing now with Avengers VS X-Men. I think we’ve had a lot of Spider-Man in our media, from that terrible third movie and it’s subsequent terrible third video game, to the main Marvel comic being published 3 times monthly, to the Ultimate comics where he “dies”, to the current Spider-man movie being a re-telling of a re-telling. They say you can only skin a cat so many ways, although why they say that I don’t know, because that’s a creepy idiom, but I believe it stands in this case. That’s not to say that I don’t find the interpretation of this actual Peter Parker and Spider-Man character welcome. The wisecracking Spider-Man/shy Peter Parker dynamic is kept, and done much better than it was. On the flip side, you’ve got things like the Lizard, who is a B-villain at best, who has been mentioned many times by the internet crowd out there, to look like a Ninja Turtle.
All that being said, the one thing I’m definitely looking forward to, is finally getting some good acting from a female lead in these movies. Kirsten Dunst could never hang, (oh god awful pun) but Emma Stone seems certainly more than capable of pulling off Gwen Stacy, which is a story I’m glad to see come to fruition, as the famous issue from the comics concerning her and Spidey is one of the best. I know spoilers are a big point of contention here on the internet, but when the story she’s famous for centers around and is literally titled “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”, I don’t think it’s too bad to say I’ll be looking forward to Andrew Garfield finding the right balance of pathos and energy to mourn his doomed new girlfriend. Check out an interview with both Peter and Gwen over on Splashpage. Spider-Man is British now. DEAL WITH IT.
The other good thing, that not many seem to be mentioning, is that Marc Webb is directing the movie, which may or may not excite and/or frustrate you, depending on what you thought of 500 Days Of Summer. I loved the movie, and thought it was a brilliant and accomplished directorial debut, although I admittedly really really love Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The guy has done a lot of music videos for… well terrible bands like P.O.D, My Chemical Romance, Jimmy Eat World and even Hoobastank. So I will be expecting a terrible soundtrack from the movie, if his work is any indication of his musical tastes. The amount of videos he’s directed indicates that he is capable of working with a broad spectrum of creative input and meshing it into a whole, which is something Spider-Man definitely needs. Fresh ideas like the creative depiction of POV aerial work as well as a more realistic approach to his web slinging will help keep it from the cheesy looking CG-fest every web slinging scene was in the previous three.
Check out 6 Minutes of footage, for as long as it stays up:
Despite the inherent tiredness of yet another Spider-Man movie, it definitely appears this one is shaping up to take back its source material and forge its own identity in our theaters. It could possibly pave the way for other, better films where we can see our favorite villains given a new life with their proper due, instead of being quick afterthoughts. *COUGH* VENOM *COUGH* I am cautiously optimistic about the movie, and initially I would have dismissed this, though the talent involved, and the direction it’s taking has proven to look interesting. The final verdict on it being Amazing however, will have to wait until it’s July 3 release.
Yep, that happened. Simon Pegg has a new movie out and at first, I feel like this was some YouTube random trailer made from some fanboys they made with Final Cut. And I’m not saying this is a knock on the film itself but it’s…I don’t…what the hell is going on?
The movie is called A Fantastic Fear of Everything and Simon Pegg (who’s apparently fearing a barber and proper hygiene in this movie as well) is an crime novelist that cannot escape his past as a children’s author. I assume his demons are personified by this creepy rodent creature that keeps popping up in the trailer. So I assume he must go out into the world, and in a very british humor type of way, dick around, meet a girl, clean himself, find out she probably has some sort of weird idiosyncratic thing that she’s been hiding from the world. After all, there’s no such thing has a hot girl that falls for the loser (movies have totally ruined my perception on reality, DAMN YOU), but they accept each other’s flaws and live happily ever after in a flat on London with his insecurity just chilling on the couch, having tea and crumpets or whatever stereotypical food you want to substitute in there. I feel like I come off skeptical and cynical of the prospects of this movie. Does that show? I blame the British ironic humor that this trailer subjected me to. Boom. Deal with it.
Note, I like Simon Pegg, I think he’s brilliant and I’m glad he stepped away from whatever Mission-Trek-TinTin movie he has been working on. Although if Kirsten Dunst and Megan Fox show up in this movie, we all should just walk away.
Early this year, Pastor Harold Camping, a former radio host for a Christian family radio station, claimed that Jesus would return to Earth on May 21st of this year, take all the righteous persons, and leave the rest to rot for the next five months until the universe’s destruction on October 21st. Obviously, this didn’t happen. Camping resigned from his position on the station, and refused to give interviews regarding his false predictions. He earned millions of dollars in donations, and when his theories were proven false, he simply said, “We’re not at the end. Why would we return it?” My question to him is, “Why do you even need this money if the world is going to end?” Enough about my resentment of Christian fundamentalists, though, back to the article.
My point is, the end of the world is a scary thing. People tend to worry a bit when it’s announced that all that they know and love will soon be destroyed, including themselves. Others just come to terms with theories like this and act as if nothing is wrong. These two viewpoints are the focus of director Lars Von Trier’s new film, Melancholia. Focusing on two sisters named Justine and Claire (Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, respectively), one getting married, the other trying to hold everything together. We then learn that a recently discovered planet named Melancholia is going to do a fly-by to Earth, but it will not hit it, as Claire’s husband, John (Kiefer Sutherland), assures her, as well as the audience. We know better though, we know exactly what’s going to happen.
That’s one of the many things wrong with Melancholia. We know all of Trier’s tricks (clever, huh?) before they actually happen. We’ve seen them before, and seeing as Melancholia is strangely similar in many ways to Trier’s previous effort, Antichrist, they do not surprise us.
Melancholia’s opening sequence, a super slo-mo overture set to the theme of Tristan & Isolde, is among the most pretentious, unnecessary scenes in cinematic history. Lasting for almost 8 minutes, it reveals the entire film, as well as serving no purpose other than to look interesting. Using slow motion to capture the, well, melancholic feeling of the entire film worked in Antichrist, but it definitely doesn’t work here. In fact, it detracts from the mood that the film sets for the remainder of its duration.
Opening on Justine’s wedding to Michael (Alexander Skarsgard), her very understanding and helpful fiancé, the film begins to gain momentum in all the eccentric characters presented to us. The wedding sequence itself lasts for about an hour, and opens up the doors to a lot of great opportunities for an interesting second half. Being part one of a two-part film, though, it abandons everything that ever was in its first half, including Michael, who Justine leaves after the wedding is over, and sticks her in Claire’s house for the rest of the movie. The second half is a mind-numbing exercise in pretentiousness, obvious symbolism, and absolutely no direction rather than the inevitable ending of Earth. The drastic contrast between Part 1 to the almost completely standstill Part 2 of Melancholia make the film almost unwatchable at a certain point.
The film’s storyline is fascinating, as are its characters, the situations, the dialogue, and especially the directing, but its refusal to tell a story and some inspired symbolism that is pounded into submission, makes Melancholia too melancholic for its own good.
Von Trier has been under fire recently for claiming that he sympathizes with Hitler at a recent Cannes Film Festival press conference. The blogosphere has named him a Nazi-sympathizer and a fascist. Now, I’m not one to sympathize with Nazis, but in Trier’s defense, his comments weren’t so radical as everyone seems to think they are. He seems to be an intelligent man, and anyone educated on Hitler would know that he was harshly abused as a child by many of his peers, as well as his family. Now, again, I don’t want to take the same path as Trier, say I sympathize with Hitler, and subsequently be known as a Nazi, but there’s two sides to every story, and a lot of times we don’t want to hear the other side. That’s all I have to say about that little shenanigan.
As far as the film itself, I’d go so far as to say it’s crap. I respect Von Trier as a filmmaker very much, and I was one of the few defenders of Antichrist, but he’s really outdone his own narcissism with Melancholia. If he keeps making films like this, being called a Nazi is going to be the least of his problems.