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EURO AICN: XXX, Leeds Film Fest, RED DRAGON, LOST IN LA MANCHA, FRAILTY!!

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

Father Geek is, of course, in Spain with Harold right now, and so I’m going to present a EURO AICN Column for the first time ever, I think...

Hi people. As you probably have noticed, I missed to convey the column latest week. I had a very hard work here with my italian site these days, so I wasn't able to do my duty for AICN. Unfortunately, another problem I had on friday (due to a very important reunion) was missing the preview of Roberto Benigni latest opus, Pinocchio.

So, you'll have to wait till next friday (when the movie will be presented in 900 screens in Italy, a record for our country) to know my opinion about it. For now, I can tell you that the reaction at the press screaning (as some of my colleagues told me) WASN'T so positive as we expected. We'll see...

Now, let's start with the column...

Grozilla attended a press conference of XXX and...

Hi guys,

Vin Diesel & Rob Cohen were in Paris today to promote the upcoming release of XXX. Aside from the promotional blablabla (which was unusually interesting), Cohen announced that he planned to come living in France in the next two years. Some minor scoop compared to what Diesel said when asked about the rumor on a remake of Guys & Dolls:

"Tom Hanks gave me a very good advice when I was working on Private Ryan : just act only part you're very afraid of... And the part in Guys & Dolls is one I fear the most. Does that answer to your question?”

“Does that mean you're gonna sing?”

“That's precisely what I 'm really afraid of!"

Til next,

Grozilla

I received this mail a few days ago, so some of the movies at the festival were already presented, but it seems anyway a very interesting occasion to see a bunch of great movies...

Just wanted to let you know about our the Festival starting on the 3 October - and to mention all the fantastic films being screened as part of the Fanomenon Strand of the Festival.

Here is a list of some major highlights coming to the city of Leeds for everybody in the North of England to enjoy. I hope you can give us a mention on your fantastic website - if you need any further info visit our website.

Cheers,

Darren

***16th Leeds International Film Festival: 3 - 13 October 2002***

HIGHLIGHTS

Special Lovecraft day - five films inspired by the great writer - Saturday 5 October

Wendigo - UK premiere

Necronomicon

From Beyond

Re-Animator + plus special appearance by Stuart Gordon

Dagon, Sect of the Sea

Anime Day - 6 October

X - Taro Rin

Escaflowne - Kazuki Akane - UK premiere

Patlabor - Mamoru Oshii

Metropolis - Taro Rin

Millennium Actress - Exclusive UK screening

Spider - David Cronenberg - Friday 4 October

Dark Water - Hideo Nakato - Friday 4 October

Dead or Alive - Miike Takashi - Friday 5 October

The Happiness of the Katakuris - Miike Takashi Saturday 5 Oct

Ichi the Killer - Miike Takashi - Saturday 5 Oct

Cure - Kiyoshi Kurosawa - UK Premiere - Sunday 6 Oct

Intacto - Juan Carlos Fresnadillo - Sunday 6 Oct

The Unknown - Michael Hjorth - Monday 7 Oct

Fausto 5.0 - Alex Olle, Isidro Ortiz, Carlos Padrisa - Wednesday 9 Oct

Man Bites Dog - 10th Anniversary screening! - Friday 11 oct

Kichiku - Kazuyoshi Kumakari - Friday 11 Oct - UK Premiere

St John's Wort - Ten Shimoyama - Saturday 12 Oct - UK Premiere

Avalon - Mamoru Oshii - Saturday 12 Oct

Night of the Dead 2 – Saturday 12 Oct

Versus - Ryuhei Kitamura - Saturday 12 Oct - UK Premiere

Cemetery Man - Michele Soavi - Saturday 12 Oct

The Evil Dead (new uncut print) - Sam Raimi - Saturday 12 Oct

Deathdream - Bob Clark - Saturday 12 Oct

The Gates of Hell - Lucio Fulci - Saturday 12 Oct

Volcano High - Tae-gyun Kim - Sunday 13 Oct - UK Premiere

Alive - Ryuhei Kitamura - Sunday 13 Oct - European Premiere

Donnie Darko - Richard Kelly - Sunday 13 Oct

Jay Lewis was deeply disappointed by Red Dragon...

How on earth could a World-Wide respected film critic and journalist such as Roger Ebert have the audacity to give RED DRAGON a ***1/2 review, when the film fails on almost every level? First off, there is not one single inspiring moment or shot in the whole film. Most of it is a literal rip-off of shots and dialogue from THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and even MANHUNTER, the brilliant and truly suspenseful Michael Mann adaptation of Thomas Harris's novel. The reason that film is the true "RED DRAGON" adaptation is because it is extremely internal and unnerving, and we are really able to feel what Will Graham (the superb William L. Petersen) thinks and feels and he gets inside the head of the "Tooth Fairy." Every actor is totally believable in MANHUNTER, because Michael Mann knows how to take a genre story and turn it upside down. Ditto Demme and LAMBS, which could not have been made any more perfectly. In this case, Universal Studios and its chairman (chairwoman) Stacey Snider made the dumbest decision possible by asking Brett Ratner, a "film-maker" of no cinematic vision, integrity or identity, to helm this project. Think of real filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, Mark Pellington or Curtis Hanson who have clearly proven their ability to handle dark, mysterious material and who would have been perfect for this picture? Who does Brett Ratner think he's kidding? We are not stupid, and there was not one single moment of true suspense or creepiness in his entire film. A few sudden jolts or scares doesn't cut it, because these Lecter stories depend more on their mood and atmosphere and feel than their quick ability to go "BOO!" This could have been an original and masterful story of psychological intrigue a la Mann and Demme's films, but instead we were stuck with an uninspired, blandly acted (save for Emily Watson) and ultimately poor piece of commercial moviemaking made for no other reason than to capitalize on the success of last year's HANNIBAL, which was a visually stunning film via Ridley Scott, but more of a gothic/black comedy romance between Lecter and Starling. In this case we can't even say that, because Mr. Ratner, a hired hack "director" who actually thinks he's going to be remembered for his alleged filmmaking legacy, when all he will be known for is a selfish wannabe Mann, Demme or Scott, who cares more for merchandising and box-office than for storytelling and technical prowess. What a waste of my money and your ink! I am sick of these God damn video directors getting the top scripts and films in Hollywood! There are only one or two that are true filmmakers and know how to make a NARRATIVE MOTION PICTURE, and not a damn TWO HOUR COMMERCIAL OR MTV SPOT! IT'S KILLING CINEMA!

Jay Lewis

N.Y.C.

Last but not Least, the untiring James Bartlett with two reviews...

Lost In La Mancha

d. Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe

The cast and crew of "Who Killed Don Quixote"

Terry Gilliam is the very definition of a maverick filmmaker. His uncompromising vision and imagination has bought us such films as Time Bandits, Brazil and 12 Monkeys. He also gave us The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, one of the most expensive flops ever made.

But underneath all that, Gilliam has held a lifelong desire to bring an adaptation of Don Quixote to the big screen; it was an obsession Orson Welles also had and failed to fully materialise; he shot some scenes over years, even carrying on when the actor playing Quixote died, but he died himself before it could be completed.

Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe are exponents of what is known as the EPK - Electronic Press Kit - the "behind the scenes"/"making of"/"interviews with the stars of (insert film name here)" that the film company gives to the media world and that we see on the TV news, gossip shows, films shows just before and whenever a film comes out.

EPK's essentially follow and document the film from beginning to end (more or less,) snatching interviews and interesting video titbits to build up public anticipation for the film before it is released. These two guys did such a sterling job on the EPK of 12 Monkeys (called The Hamster Factor) that it actually got it's own video release.

Consequently, Gilliam liked their work so much that he asked them to do the same for Who Killed Don Quixote - but who could have known that what they would film would make a great documentary about a film that never happened?

As a documentary, Lost In La Mancha stands head and shoulders above others in its class because it can show, non-judgementally. The contrast between, literally, hat was and what could have been. Gilliam's vision for the "Who Killed.." looked as if it could have been amazing; giants, human puppets, huge windmills and amazing costumes. He agonized over the right cast, spent years getting it all together.

Then, on day 2 of filming, a flood washed away some of the equipment. Then the lead actor, Jean Rochefort, playing Quixote himself, who has spent a year learning English especially the part, when home to France with a double hernia (ouch!), never to return, Within a week the investors, guarantors and insurers has stepped in and the film was all but over.

It is tragic to see watch such bad luck followed bad luck, and whilst you don't doubt Gilliam's skill and humour, you do wonder about the wisdom of going into production with a smaller budget then he needed and some contracts not signed.

But he was a drive man. And "Who Killed Don Quixote" drove straight into one of the Windmills that Quixote himself saw in his mid as giants. Indeed, there are many similarities between Quixote and Gilliam.

I can only hope this hasn't put Gilliam off ever making another film - though he is apparently trying to buy the script back off the insurers, who currently own it.

Frailty

d. Bill Paxton

Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Matthew O'Leary

Bill Paxton is a journeyman actor, having been involved in films both big and small, critically acclaimed and hugely financially successful like Aliens, True Lies, Titanic, Twister, Apollo 13, One False Move, A Simple Plan and Near Dark.

Paxton is that guy who has been in loads of great films and you'd know his face, but he's never been an A List hunk or celebrity - he's one of those. Well, "Frailty" is his directorial debut and is a Southern gothic thriller based around a God-fearing serial killer and his children.

The film begins when Fenton Meeks (Matthew McConaughey) enters an FBI office and demands to talk to Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe,) then confesses that he knows who the "God's Hand" serial killer is - it's his brother Adam and the bodies are buried in the Rose Garden, where their family home used to be.

Told mainly in flashback, we listen to Fenton as he tells of how his dad (Bill Paxton) - an honest, kind, hard-working man - woke them one night to tell them that an angel had appeared to him and told him that there were demons on earth. Worse still, he was given a list of people - devils in human form - who he must destroy.

The kids are unsure of all this and think it's all been a bad dream, but when dad comes home with the first weapon that the angel told him to gather - an axe - and tells them the time to slay the first demon is here, they get more scared. This fear turns into terror as their dad carries out his "Holy Orders" and buries the bodies in the Rose Garden.

The visions carry on and the young Adam (Matthew O'Leary) is drawn into his dad's world - it seems to make sense to him and his dad seems so sure - but Fenton realises that what his dad is doing is wrong; he is killing people, not demons. Maybe his dad is ill, or just insane, but he's not God's executioner - yet Adam just can't bring himself to run away, as he won't leave Adam behind.

The tension builds as Dad still seems so plausible, so normal, so kind and understanding - not a raving maniac - that the kids seem to learn to live with it, but you know that they are going to be forever scarred; and maybe will end up following his path.

Eventually Fenton ends up locked in the cellar by his dad, who is determined that he will "hear from God". It is Fenton's test of faith and after a week in the darkness, he says has heard "the word" and that "God's Hand" is now part of his beliefs too. But when the next poor victim is facing death, Fenton turns the axe on his dad and runs, never looking back.

Frailty is a fine horror film, combining elements of Seven and The Usual Suspects with a fine sense of spookiness and some good twists and turns. The cast works well - especially O'Leary as young Fenton - and the minor problems with the story are covered well.

It also is to the film's credit that the dad never seems mad, or ill, or insane - we see the visions he sees, we see that he genuinely believes the demons he kills are evil and not human; it would have been so much easier to make him recognisably ga-ga.

It is a shame Frailty has been lost in the summer, where the abduction and murder of several children in the UK ended up with the censuring of all films with child-related violent themes.

James Bartlett

That's all for today. See you next week (and stay tuned on weekend for my Pinocchio review).

Robert Bernocchi

CINEMA

Thanks, Robert, and everyone else!!

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 7, 2002, 10:13 a.m. CST

    The Dated Masterpiece

    by bluelou_boyle

    Manhunter is a top film, but hardly anyone has seen it, so from a producer's viewpoint it makes sense to adapt Red Dragon again. It's not as if the consumer's lose out, they don't have to watch the film, and the fact is the majority of people will prefer Red Dragon to Mahunter. Call them phillistines, braindead or tasteless, that's reality. Those who like Manhunter can watch it whenever they want. The script is the most important thing, more so than the director, and everyone agrees that the Red Dragon script is top notch.

  • Oct. 7, 2002, 11:55 a.m. CST

    last time with manhunter, I promise

    by reni

    I saw Red Dragon at the AMC this weekend and it wasn't very good at all. Flat, uninspired. And that's being polite. It was like they were re-enacting famous scenes from the earlier films. All this talk from Ted Tally about how fashionable it is to like Manhunter, how justified he and Ratner were to make Red Dragon. Sorry you film is quite shit.

  • Oct. 7, 2002, 12:43 p.m. CST

    last time again

    by reni

    Danny Elfman's music was a really bad idea too....

  • Oct. 7, 2002, 7:30 p.m. CST

    Jay Jay

    by ILoveEwksAndJJar

    shure you ain't bitter 'bout the whole Superman deal when reviewing this movie? just askin.

  • Oct. 8, 2002, 2:19 a.m. CST

    Unlike the majority so far ...

    by Ronnie_Dobbs

    ... I am more interested in Gilliam's DON QUIXOTE than in bitching about the lack of talent or originality that is Brett Ratner. This film must be made, regardless of how many studio execs the film-geek community has to kill to make this dream a reality!