August 23, 2007

Pitt's Jesse James Gets A Full Trailer In HD

A new, high-definition trailer for Andrew Dominik's gloriously titled western The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford recently went up at and it is a real thing of beauty. The film stars Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck in the titular roles, and some who have seen the film in its myriad early forms have touted this film as a real breakthrough for Affleck, considering his performance Oscar worthy.

More interesting though, are the reports of the post-production difficulties Warner Brothers has had with Dominik's film, which was first slated for a winter 2006 release, pushed back to an early 2007 release, and pushed back once more to it's current winter 2007 release. The initial cut reportedly ran over three hours long, with Dominik attempting a more languidly paced, visually poetic, Terrence Malick styled western. Since then, the film has gone through various permutations, with some preview screening cuts running around two hours long. According to the official website of the 64th Venice Film Festival, where the film is slated to play in competition, the final run time is 155 minutes. Hopefully Dominik and Warner Brothers were able to find a happy medium between the extreme variations in runtime that have been reported. The film opens in limited release on September 21.

August 20, 2007

Miike Goes Sci-Fi With "God's Puzzle"

Variety Asia is reporting that the prolific Takashi Miike will make God's Puzzle (Kamisama No Puzzle) his next project. The film, based on a bestselling novel by Shinji Kimoto, centers on twin brothers, one an industrious student, the other an aimless drifter, who join forces with a beautiful, brilliant dropout and attempt "to unlock the secrets of the universe and build one of their own." The project is described as a sci-fi romantic comedy. Though Miike will undoubtedly bring his unique touch to the film, I'm still hoping that he eventually tries his hand at pure science fiction. Filming on God's Puzzle is set to start on August 22 in Tokyo with a summer 2008 release planned.

August 8, 2007

Hot Fuzz (Wright, 2007)

The decision of director Edgar Wright and star/co-writer Simon Pegg to save the most prominent and overt instances of parody for the hilarious climax of Hot Fuzz is revealing of their intentions for the film, and is also the key to understanding the film’s success as a comedy. Of course, Hot Fuzz is a witty, often times laugh out loud funny, comedic primer on action cinema, densely peppered throughout with references to everything from (most blatantly) modern American action films, to Italian Poliziotteschi, to Hong Kong action films. However, it is more than this. The real pleasure of the film, the reason it succeeds in a manner above and beyond films of this ilk, is that the hilarity stems from a true knowledge and appreciation of the action film, but it doesn’t depend on it. Wright and Pegg play with their references intelligently, weaving them seamlessly into a coherent, freestanding narrative, utilizing them not to carry the film, but rather to enrich it. Thus, Hot Fuzz succeeds in its own right and never degenerates into a patchwork assemblage of parody and homage.

August 3, 2007

Rescue Dawn (Herzog, 2006)

Many have called Rescue Dawn Werner Herzog's attempt at making a Hollywood film, and though it hems closer to the conventional Hollywood formula than any previous Herzog film, that statement is tinged by a bitter sense of reductivism. Herzog isn't simply aping Hollywood techniques, but rather slyly subverting them. The established three-act story arc is thrown out in favor of a more stream of events structure, and though they may be employed more sparingly, the Herzogian touches are still present, namely in the rhapsodic opening scene and the film's second half, which touches upon the theme of man versus nature, a theme Herzog knows all too well. This is an exceptional film, one of the best of the summer, and possibly even the year. Once again, Christian Bale is spectacular as Dieter Dengler, showcasing maybe his finest performance yet and Steve Zahn's performance is a revelation, especially considering his past body of work.