Father Geek here with another of those Latauro thingies from the land beyond beyond, etc...
That woman deserves her revenge and we deserve to die.
After going to see LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, a friend of mine commented on how boring he finds most action scenes. It was something he’d been thinking about lately after viewing a series of films that were sold on their action (BAD BOYS II, for one). He said he wants to go to sleep through most of them.
And I thought it was just me.
Fist fights have always been pretty standard and dull; it takes some pretty fancy footwork to make them interesting (Bruce Lee was the master of this, feel free to list other exceptions to the rule below). Car chases frequently let down, as well. Filmmakers fall back on the crutch of fast cuts, blurry action and loud noises, covering up for the fact that what we’re watching isn’t actually exciting. It’s a slightly-less subtle version of a subtitle that reads: “THIS IS AWESOME!!! (trust us)”.
So if I am, in fact, throwing down the gauntlet (or, more accurately, dropped a disposable glove in the corner where it won’t bother anyone), what barometer am I using? What do I consider exciting?
I re-watched MATRIX RELOADED the other night (fell asleep, but it was a lack-of-sleep issue, not a criticism), and though I maintain my initial assessment, I do enjoy watching it. The action scenes are incredibly well choreographed and filmed, and though I don’t for a second believe “there is no bar”, there’s some damn fine stuff in there.
It’s sort-of the same with KILL BILL: VOLUME ONE. It contains the action scenes I’ve been desperate to see in a film since I was old enough to see action scenes (or, rather, violent action scenes), yet I don’t believe the bar is as high as it can go.
I’m really enjoying the one-upmanship we’re beginning to see in films. The over-the-top, not-even-close-to-reality scenes we’re getting. Is it harmful to society? I don’t know. That’s an unanswerable question that I’m not going to bother with here. All I know is that I’m finally starting to get excited by action again.
(By the way, if you want to be bored by yet another RELOADED comparison, I suggest you scroll down to the KILL BILL review – post haste!)
* The first of our many scoopers is a crewperson who lives on the continent of ******* (blacked out to protect identity). So he lives in Sydney and tells AICN-D that he was all set to go on the RED DWARF movie, until it got cancelled for what he says is about the sixth time in the past two years. The big delay at the moment is that Victorian Premier Steve Bracks (a confessed DWARF fan) wants the film to lens at the new studios in Melbourne. Problem is, they’re a long way off being built. A long way. So the news coming out of our scooper (who will now be known as “White Giant”) is that if RED DWARF films, it will probably be in Sydney. But that’s a big ‘if’, people.
* White Giant is far more optimistic about an almost-certain gig for next year: SUPERMAN. The talk of it going to Vancouver seems to be false (or at least no longer true), as Sydney’s studio space is now free up; that’s two big studios side-by-side with nothing going on. So now the Brothers Warner are looking to shift from Canada to Aus, with Giant adding the following: ‘And although you guys have probably heard the casting rumours more times than the national anthem, this is what we’ve heard: Brendan Fraser, and mainly because he’s about the only one not complaining about coming back to Australia (he did QUIET AMERICAN here), Selma Blair (from CRUEL INTENTIONS) as Lois Lane, and I kid you not... a heap of Aussie folks like Jack Thompson, Joel Edgerton and Tommy Long in the support parts. Why? They’re cheap. Much cheaper than shipping out US support actors. I suppose it worked for STAR WARS. I have no idea, but I guess Long would be Jimmy Olsen, and Thompson... Luthor? Yeah, a bit scary. But like the RED DWARF movie, this one’s been on and off about twenty times too, so wouldn’t be surprised if it all changes next week.’ Interesting as those rumours are, I have to disagree with Giant’s speculations. If I had to bet, I’d say Joel Edgerton may give a slightly cooler edge to Jimmy Olsen, whilst Jack Thompson would be a shoo-in as Perry White. But it’s all academic until the light goes green...
* And one last note from Giant: ‘A four mini-series of “Firefly” looks all set to film here by next Easter. Sssh...’ Oh, he said ‘Sssh’ at the end, that’s my bad. Just forget you read it.
* Seems to be the season for it: “MadMax” has given us the heads-up about Speilberg’s new TIN-TIN movie. Forget the trash you’re reading about Van Damme playing him (rumours that started just because he’s Belgian... by that logic, he should be playing Hercule Poirot, no? No, I was joking! Don’t do it!!!). Who’s The Beard looking at casting? Rumours are surrounding Clayton Watson, who played the Kid in MATRIX RELOADED and an ANIMATRIX segment. Believe it... or don’t.
* MadMax added another piece of amusing news: GIGLI ain’t coming out in cinemas down here. It’ll be released on video under the title (as we predicted) TOUGH LOVE! That’ll fool us!
AWARDS AND FESTIVALS
AUSTRALIAN SCREEN SOUND GUILD AWARDS
Best soundtrack of the year went to Phillip Noyce’s THE QUIET AMERICAN. The awards were announced on October 10 in Sydney, and covered areas of excellence in sound for both film and television.
Described as the Cannes of Animation, Annecy will play host to Aussie animation short HARVIE KRUMPET. KRUMPET has already picked up awards all over the place, including the Louis Le Prince 2003 animation competition.
2003 INSIDE FILM AWARDS
The nominations were announced in Sydney this Tuesday past, with the Best Feature Film category being filled by GETTING’ SQUARE, JAPANESE STORY and SWIMMING UPSTREAM.
PIRATES just won’t go away, and neither will NEMO. Anyone else heartened by that? CALENDER GIRLS took out fourth spot in its arthouse release, thus signaling the beginning of the Manufactured Sleeper Hit.
This week's winners are...
- 1. PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL
- 2. THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN
- 3. FINDING NEMO
- 4. CALENDER GIRLS
- 5. BAD BOYS II
RELEASED THIS WEEK
A buddy movie featuring Hitler and Jesus gets an arthouse release, the Israelis give kitchen sink dramas a go, Tarantino releases his 3 ¾th film (if you consider KB:V1 to be half a film, and you add his quarter of FOUR ROOMS... fractions rule!), and a documentary examines the realities of THREE MEN AND A BABY.
Annnnnd here are the new Downunder releases...
- BROKEN WINGS
- KILL BILL: VOLUME ONE
KILL BILL: VOLUME ONE
Wow. This is some violent shit.
There’s something that always bothered me about the film FLAWLESS. You remember it, right? FLAWLESS was one of the films that Joel Schumacher made in his awkward transition from B&R to PHONE BOOTH. No, I didn’t see it either. But I saw the poster. The tagline was: “Nobody’s Perfect. Everybody’s... FLAWLESS.” I kept channeling Willy Wonka: “Wait – scratch that. Reverse it.” In my opinion, it’s the other way around. Nobody’s flawless, but everybody’s perfect. It’s flaws that add to perfection. Why I’m wasting valuable bandwidth with this, I’ll explain later.
I want to start with talking about how awesome Lucy Liu is in this. It actually gave me a new perspective on what a great performance is, to be honest. Within moments of her appearing on screen, I’d lost all baggage that Liu brings: Ling, Alex, etc... And that’s as much to do with Tarantino as it is with Liu. I couldn’t even tell you why, without a second viewing. That first shot of her in that boss meeting, I believed that she was that same girl from the anime back story. I believed she was sensitive about her heritage, that she was in total command of all these people. I believed it all, and after this and CYPHER, I think she needs some kudos for the ways in which she’s left-fielding our perceptions of her as an actress.
The House of Blue Leaves sequence is where I really got into the film. I remember when Harry was in China, I spent the best part of an hour bugging him in the AICN about this sequence. I wanted to know if there were *actual* blue leaves, and I wouldn’t leave it alone. On some level I was just killing time by being irritating, but I was actually fascinated by the concept. When I heard the words “blue leaves” I was obsessed with the idea of an image I’d not seen before. And okay, the House of Blue Leaves is actually a night club, but it still blew me away. This is the sort of scene I imagine when I wonder why we don’t see glorious excessive fight scenes. This is the scene I imagine when I get bored in movies.
I know that the clichÃ© of comparing films to MATRIX RELOADED is getting tired, and it only fuels cyclical talkback arguments, but I gotta do it here to illustrate how a cliffhanger is meant to be. The beat we leave VOLUME ONE on is similar in tone to how we leave RELOADED. Only here it works. Why? Because the cliffhanger, that last beat, is a new piece of information. It’s shocking, and turns everything we knew about the world we’ve been watching on its head.
And that brings me to Tarantino. My formative filmmaking years (back in high school) where characterised by the Tarantino obsession that I and every other kid my age had. RESERVOIR DOGS and PULP FICTION were perfect, and that was that. Expectations are high for him, probably too high. It’s why I didn’t like JACKIE BROWN upon first viewing. And it’s why I had such a big problem with KILL BILL for the first twenty minutes or so.
Tarantino is aware of the impact he’s had on the art form he so adores, and his self-consciousness comes close to being overtly impactful on his filmmaking. The opening of KILL BILL is massively flawed. The font of the opening credits change constantly, almost at random. Whenever he sets up a style, be it for shots or music or character presentation, he goes against it instantly. But because it’s QT, we know he’s doing it on purpose.
So, for the first twenty minutes, I was annoyed at how badly he was trying *not* to create a classic film. How badly he was trying to buck against his own trend of reinventing cinema with every film. But he screwed it up. The flaws interacted with the rest of the film to make something that is a brilliant whole, a tone-perfect film that manages to sustain its energy and sincerity from go to whoa.
And I absolutely believe that’s what he meant to do.
(Disclaimer: I should mention that I almost wasn’t going to write a review, as I feel I’ve only seen half the film. I couldn’t even describe to my friends what I thought of it when it was over. So anything I say now... well, you’ll get a real review in a few months.)
MORE COOL TEAMUPS!
- Bill Gates and Steve Jobs will go head-to-head in Robert Rodriguez’s PC VS MAC
- J. K. Simmons and Jack Thompson find themselves contractually obliged to participate in EDIT IT THERE: J. JONAH JAMESON VERSUS PERRY WHITE!!!
- As part of their effort to make every single video game into a movie, producers have begun work on PACMAN V. TETRIS: TRIUMPH OF THE WILLS