Thursday, August 25, 2016

Billy's End Is Our Beginning

Well I can't think of a better way to finish the short week off than with Billy Magnussen's bare behind waving us towards the great yonder. Let's just pretend that this picture's not a full week old, and that we've stayed on top (heh) of his Instagrams like we should be keeping on top (HEH) of this kind of thing, okay? Okay. Have a good weekend, Billy and people-who-are-not-Billy!

Jason Says Jump, You Jump

There are two beefcake-fests out this late summer weekend - besides Edgar Ramirez in the boxing-drama Hands of Stone (which we exploited pretty thoroughly yesterday, click here for that) there is also the latest Jason Statham masterpiece, Mechanic: Resurrection, the sequel to his 2011 film. 

In case you missed the trailer (aka footage of Jason Statham shirtless for a second, which we made last forever) click here for that. Jason posted these pictures on his own Instagram this week, because he knows how to sell his damn movies. (See also here.) Bless you, sir!

I Am Link

--- Boo Witch - I won't be watching it (I still haven't watched the first one) but there's a new trailer for the new Blair Witch and you can watch it over here - there are also several stills from the film which consist of a bunch of people I don't recognize standing around in the woods, and I wouldn't want it any other way! I just realized I'm going to be traveling the weekend this movie comes out, so I guess I'm going to some bizarro movie theater on the road to see it.

--- Darker Things - Go director Doug Liman is very busy right now - we told you a couple of weeks ago about how he recently attached himself to Chaos Walking with Daisy Ridley, which is an adaptation of a book series we liked very much; well he's just had to drop off his Gambit movie with Channing Tatum, which he was also set to direct, because he's making a Justice League Dark movie - which I maintain is just the silliest name; it sounds like a chocolate bar - which is like The Avengers but with weirdos... you know, like Suicide Squad. Or Guardians of the Galaxy even! Anyway this group of weirdos includes "John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Zatanna and Etrigan the Demon." I am down for some Swamp Thing.

--- Ride 'Em Cowboy - Pedro Almodovar has come up this week a bunch, he's been doing lots of press for Julieta, but I can't not mention all his talk about what his version of Brokeback Mountain would've consisted of (he almost made it before Ang Lee did) because I would watch this!

"More sex, more sex. And this is not gratuitous. Annie Proulx’s story is about a physical relationship, an animal relation. So sex is necessary, because it is the body of the story. So I always had the image — these two guys start making love to each other like animals, like they were taking care of . Against the cold, in the mountain; almost a way to survive in the mountains. In the end, they discover that it was something else and they were surprised; it was like a big accident. But the physical part, [the story] is about that. "

--- Poor Peggy - I wanted to quote something from this interview with Kirsten Dunst in the New York Times, in which she talks lovingly about her character from Fargo (I liked the bit about her grandma) but I have hit the paywall on their website and they're not letting me reload the article so whatever, go read it, unless you're paywalled out too, in which case we can commiserate together on our shared cheapness.

--- Gold is the Warmest Color - I liked the sci-fi romance Equals with Nicholas Hoult & Kristen Stewart quite a bit when I saw it at Tribeca, so I am excited to read that that film's director is making yet another weird romance next, and it will star Charlie Hunnam and Lea Seydoux! I guess he wants a blond bookend to that brunette one. No word on what makes this story "unique" but with Charlie around I am hoping it's set in a nudist colony.

--- Night and the City - Writer-director Dan Gilroy is finally lining up a project to direct after he knocked at least me out with Nightcrawler - it's called Inner City and it looks like it will star Denzel Washington; not much on specifics but they're comparing it to the Paul newman movie The Verdict (which I have never seen) in that it is "a character study as much a courtroom drama and is set in Los Angeles."

--- Happy Easter - I don't know how this slipped by me posting about it (I knew the news, but I didn't exclaim the news) but Kristin Chenoweth has reunited with her best Pushing Daisies boyfriend Bryan Fuller  on American Gods! She will be playing the character called Easter, and Bryan posted that shot of Cheno in character, with bonnet, on Twitter yesterday. Oh heavens I am excited!

--- And Finally it's brief - you might say it's a tease! - but here's the teaser trailer for the third season of The Fall with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan, a show I have enjoyed very much even if I think Jamie Dornan is not the greatest actor in the bunch still. Gillian more than makes up for his woodenness. We still don't have a release date for this, though.

Riz Ahmed Four Times


Anybody been watching The Night Of?
Should I watch it?
I do love me some Riz...

Which Is Hotter?

Beautiful and perfect, twenty feet tall and blond and sculpted from marble, Swedish with talent and teeth and muscles poking out of every crevice... but you are older than me, Alexander Skarsgard! You are older than me! Hahahahaha I win! (Sigh. I win nothing.) Today is Alex's 40th birthday so if he's not hanging out in the woods with strange men anymore (ahem) I hope he's celebrating well. Or maybe hanging out in the woods with strange men is his celebration, in which case I say -- I AM STRANGE, ALEXANDER. I am a strange man! I should have been invited. Anyway...


Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from: 

Pink Flamingos (1972) 

Connie Marble: Oh, I love you Raymond. I love you more than anything in this whole world. I love you more than my own filthiness, more than my own hair color. Oh God, I love you more than the sound of bones breaking, the sound of death rattle - even more than the sound of my own shit do I love you, Raymond.
Raymond Marble: And I, Connie, also love you more than anything that I could ever imagine: more than my hair color, more than the sound of babies crying, of dogs dying - even more than the thought of original sin itself. I am yours, Connie, eternally united through an invisible core of finely woven filth, that even God himself could never ever break. 

The happiest, filthiest of birthdays today
to Mink Stole, Icon. We love you, Mink!

Haints & Bugs & Good Good Times

Because I'm trying to put Greg McLean's wretched wreck of a film The Darkness out of my mind (which I just reviewed here) I am forcing my brain to happy places, and there's nothing making me happier than these two things right now, which I haven't talked about here on the blog nearly enough. Number One, the horror comic Harrow County, which my friend Dan Walber pushed upon me with the wisdom of a wise crone - any fans in the house? I plowed through the first dozen issues in the space of a few days but I've now slowed my pace, knowing I am near catching up with all there is and I don't want to grow restless staring at my mail-box for new issues.

The other thing, which I've been rather vocal about on Twitter but only mentioned once or twice here (and really only as a chance to stare at Aaron Tveit's exposed flesh) is the CBS series Braindead starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead -- its ratings have been terrible, I keep hearing, so I won't ask if you're watching because you're probably not. Instead I will scream at you for this perceived slight - watch the damned show already! 

I mean Brooke Adams, star of the 70s masterpiece Invasion of the Body Snatchers, recently showed up! And any show that's got her on deck is playing with a full set of cards, right? It's probably for the best that it wasn't her Body Snatchers co-star Veronica Cartwright that showed up, because if Veronica Cartwright showed up I would most definitely go postal when (if...) the show gets canned. Brooke Adams is just genius enough. Watch this show!

A Darkness Has Swallowed My Soul

If I could turn back time, if I could find a way, I'd never watch The Darkness - heck, I'd pretend The Darkness didn't exist. I think it would be better for everybody - me, actors Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell and various underlings, the writers, the prop people, the production assistant who had to drive Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell and various underlings to the set every day...

But most most especially, next to me, I think it would be best for director Greg McLean if The Darkness didn't exist, because I felt better about Greg before watching it then I did when it ended, and I'd like us to return to that happy place we were in before. A simpler time, when Wolf Creek was plenty. In all its variants - the sequel, the TV show - each one might be slightly not-as-awesome as the preceding but they're all good in their ways (and the original is a straight-up masterpiece).

Wolf Creek is the sort of thing that carries you a career's length. It's the giant slab of wood that carries Kate Winslet to freedom, and The Darkness is Leonardo Dicaprio - let go, Rose, let goooooooooo.

The Darkness is just startingly, alarmingly inept - at least coming from a director that's proven himself so capable in the past - it's so inept that it made me worry for Greg's health after watching it. It made me think about the stories that have dogged Tobe Hooper on Poltergeist about his drug use and how Steven Spielberg maybe might have shot that movie because Tobe was in too much of a drug funk to aim the camera - it made me hope that Greg McLean had become a drug addict and some half-assed A.D. had actually made this movie instead of him. Enjoy the drugs, Greg! We all need a bender now and then. But come back to us!

Anyway Poltergeist is a reference point because The Darkness rips that movie off at every turn - creepy suburban kids and a haunted house and eventually a spiritualist come to rid the homestead of its spectral presence. I really thought maybe a spin would be spun, a reason or purpose would reveal itself at some point, so I kept watching against my better instincts - the instincts that were telling me, "Turn off the TV! Run from this room! Forget this movie exists! Stick a wire brush in your ear-hole and scrub it from your brain if need be! This will only hurt you!" 

Alas, I didn't listen. I kept plugging onward, a dutiful foot-soldier for my Wolf Creek friend. I did neither of us any favors. Today, you Greg McLean and me, movie blogger, and everyone reading this alongside us, today we will make a pact - The Darkness didn't happen. I know, I know - I have seen A Nightmare on Elm Street, I know what happens when a community tries to bury the horrible past instead of allowing themselves to learn and grow from it. But I'm willing to take that chance. I am willing to offer up to Hell the souls of the next generation if I can just go another day without The Darkness set upon me. I am sorry to those who might suffer in the future. I am not strong. I am not strong.

Five Frames From ?


What movie is this?

Good Morning, World

Paul Bettany is vacationing in Ibiza right now and while I'm not going to complain about him posting shirtless selfies on Instagram I have to admit that I am a bit worried for him - he is so fair-skinned! This seems to be a lot of sun for such a fair-skinned fellow! Take better care of your skin, Paul. Your skin is your living. The skin is life!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

All About Tab

In case you missed it when it was in theaters (lord knows little things like this sadly don't play everywhere) now's your chance to catch the documentary about Tab Hunter titled, plainly, Tab Hunter Confidential -- it has just been released onto blu-ray and DVD and all that jazz. It is really a wonderful document of a fascinating life from pop-culture documentarian Jeffrey Schwartz, who also made the documentary on Divine and the documentary on William Castle and, well, dude has over 300 credits, most of which are on subjects I too obsess over, and I think he would be an incredible person to have a drink with, honestly. As would Tab! Oh and I also recommend the book too -- a great read, and a great watch.

Hit Me Edgar Baby, One More Time

Hey guys, remember me? Aww that look on Edgar Ramirez' face is so adorably expectant, but I don't think that Hands of Stone is quite going to meet those expectations. The strange red-band trailer that they released this past week, full of sex and nudity, was a surprising bid for an audience though! So much Usher butt...
But (speaking of... butts) maybe even better than that trailer is the behind-the-scenes "Training Featurette" that they've released - I wasn't planning on capping it but as it wore on and Edgar got bouncier and sweatier and his, you know, support...

... got looser and less restrictive, well, I couldn't help myself, I had to cap the whole damn thing. Besides all the bouncing my favorite bit has got to be the person who keeps shoving a water bottle in Edgar's face with the deranged look of pure erotic passion...

I know that look. That is my look. 
Anyway go ahead and hit the jump for the video 
and over thirty gifs, my fellow maniacs...

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Audition (1999)

Asami: Words create lies. 
Pain can be trusted. 

In the 25 years that Takashi Miike has been making movies he has made one hundred of them, according to IMDb. And while math might not be my strong suit I am fairly certain that works out to a whole helluva lot of work -- four fucking projects every fucking year. That is insane. While Audition was the first time his movie-making traveled far and wide it wasn't the last - the problem just became the impossibility of keeping up. I doubt he even has time to keep up and see everything he makes. 

This decade brought the great 13 Assassins (my review) and the equally great Lesson of the Evil (my review) but otherwise I haven't seen... oh wait, I did see Yakuza Apocalypse, I forgot about that one! See what I mean? Impossible. Anyway my point is I couldn't even begin to make a comprehensive list of what you need to see from his output because even as a person who tries I've barely put a dent in it. But here are five titles, besides his masterpiece Audition, that I remember fondly.

Lesson of the Evil (2012) -- Okay I just mentioned it but seriously I wish more people had caught this horror comedy that would be sold to a US studio for a remake as "American Psycho meets To Sir, With Love" -- not that any US studio would bite onto a sexy (hello Hideaki Itô!) dark comedy about school violence. Which is our loss! Heathers would probably never get made today either.

"Imprint" from Masters of Horror (2006) -- a bit of a cheat since it's an episode from a TV show but it was so far beyond what most everyone else delivered for Showtime's horror series that they wouldn't even air it, and it earned that distinction, and then some.

Gozu (2003) -- I have only seen this movie (his ode to his own master, Mr. David Lynch) once and it was probably not long after it came out so it's been over a dozen years but I reference it all the time. If you've seen it you can probably guess which part I am refericing, but then you're probably wondering what the hell is wrong with me that I live a life that I'd reference such a thing all the time... a high life, y'all. A high life.

The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001) -- His gore-soaked sunshine musical must be seen to be believed, but you probably still won't believe it even after you've seen it. Belongs a spot in the pantheon alongside Peter Jackson's Meet the Feebles (although what pantheon these two movies stand in ya got me)

Dead or Alive (1999) -- I wasn't sure whether to give this fifth spot to Ichi the Killer or to Visitor Q but truth be told I've only watched Ichi in fits and spurts (emphasis on spurts) because I always find it too disturbing to keep up with, and I don't remember enough of Visitor Q to really warrant singing of its praises, although I know it's very fondly thought of by most Miike fans. So let's go with Dead or Alive, (although I'm not sure which of the trilogy I'm remembering; they've bled together at this point) which has what is probably the most insane fight scene I had ever seen up until that point. It stuck. 

Thanks for the memories (nightmares)
and happy birthday, Takashi!

Cats Versus Dogs Versus Brando

I'm sure that photographers thought they were being clever, photographing Marlon Brando with animals because he had what the papers called "Animal Magnetism" but man, there are a lot of pictures of Brando with animals. (And that's even if you don't count Elizabeth Taylor.) And seeing as how it's the dull side of a Wednesday afternoon let's just go ahead and indulge ourselves in some silliness (as if days of the week have ever stopped or started us with regards to silliness)...


I've Got Designs on Liam Hemsworth

Well looky here, the long-denied-Americans movie The Dressmaker (starring Kate Winslet & Liam Hemsworth & Judy Davis) has finally suited up and made itself pretty enough for International display - it's got a trailer, a poster, and a release date of September 23rd! We'll just pretend we never posted the trailers that came along with its Aussie release last year (although you probably want to click here because there's a lot of half-naked Liam involved) (oh and here too) and post this new trailer for you to gaze upon, fresh-faced and fancy-free...
The movie's a lot of fun --
I definitely recommend catching it.

Anatomy of a (Hitchcock) Frame

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Metrograph here in New York City I finally got to see Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 masterpiece North By Northwest on a big screen this past weekend. I've seen most of the big Hitch movies on big screens by now but somehow NBNW kept eluding me. It was, as usual with Hitch movies, revelatory -- these movies were made for this format after all. The bigger the better!

Everything from those gorgeous diagonal opening credits splashed over city glass on down just pops off the screen - those shots of the UN! I am glad I recently visited the UN myself so I could see how spectacular Hitch's camera was making it. And the crop-duster scenes astride the cornfield, the expanse of it after so much business...

... when that plane comes swooping in and violating the sky itself, well, you really feel that danger, and Grant's total vulnerability in the moment. The attack might not make a lick of logical sense, but it hits you in the gut all the same. (And I just summed up so much of Hitch with that sentence.) 

But there's a shot later in the film that 
echoes the one above that I really want to talk about...

I don't think our friend Nathaniel has done North by Northwest for his "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series at The Film Experience but if he had and I had participated it would be this shot that I would choose, I think. Seeing it on the big screen was vital to its impact because there is so so very much happening in the shot that - thankfully Hitch holds it for awhile so you can drink it all in.

I recommend you click on that frame above - I purposefully made it very large so you can see all that's on offer. Let me set up the moment - Eve (Eva Marie Saint) has just "murdered" Roger (Cary Grant) with a blank cartridge in order to finally and fully ingratiate herself with the bad dudes. The two lovers have this last chance ("last" being unbeknownst to Roger) to say farewell before she head off on a plane with the bad dudes. So it's a goodbye scene.

Roger doesn't know it's goodbye yet - he is still posing, playing Mr. Cool. He's just performed his death scene spectacularly, and he's feeling alive. You can see the Professor (the head of the CIA or the FBI or, as he puts it, "FBI, CIA, ONI... we're all in the same alphabet soup.") has moved off into the background to give them their privacy, but only somewhat - he's also leaning conspiratorially into the car and talking with the officer therein. 

Unlike the absence of scenery between the two men on the road seen up top, the scenery here in the woods of South Dakota (and let's just take a moment to revel in the perfectly gorgeous falseness of this obvious sound-stage - I miss this sort of thing) is the opposite - a clutter of vertical lines, slicing the two characters off from one another. There are so many obstacles between them...

Look at that white steed this lady rides upon! Even if her outfit paints her as a Bad Girl, her ride sings another song, all the sweeter in its telling. Her outfit though - if there's one thing Eva Marie Saint knows in this movie it's how to dress the scene. Remember, she's just "murdered" her lover...

... and so she's dressed the role - that is some full-on Bonnie Parker business going on there. That cap! Nobody ever did anything good in a cap like that. The outfit is also appropriately funereal - she is The Angel of Death. The bad dudes she's performing for just see the Death part, but we get to see The Angel.

(One great sidenote about her astonishing wardrobe, via: "Edith Head was unable to leave Paramount to work as the costume designer on North by Northwest, so [Producer Herbert] Coleman instead took Eva Marie Saint to the Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York to select a range of costumes from their collection.")

And then there it is, lording over this entire shot - the Mount Rushmore monument that will come to define their immediate future; the stage upon which they will play out the final violent Act of their love affair, and sacrifice for Country.

In an earlier scene when they first arrive in South Dakota (seen above) Grant says, "I don't like the way that Teddy Roosevelt is looking at me," which The Professor replies to with, "Perhaps he's trying to give you one last word of caution... 'Speak softly, and carry a big stick." Very shortly it will become imperative that Grant, as he attempts to rescue his beloved, does speak very softly...

... and as we all know, since the film keeps reinforcing with it's oh-so-subtle hints about this character's charm and manly manliness, that he is carrying the biggest of sticks. Thankfully for Eve, that one's for her...