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A feast in a time of plague.

Friday, December 31, 2004

In news from the world of animation 2004, Animated News picks the year's best. In news from cartoon history 5000 years ago, archaeologists have discovered perhaps the earliest extant example of the form.


Camera engineer Takuo Miyagishima will be recieving an honorary Oscar for his contributions to the technical side of cinema.


I lovvvvve Chuck Stephens' Top Ten of 2004. (But hell, no Last Life in the Universe? I must be the only one putting this in my Top Ten, which is a shame...) His most interesting choice? A Malaysian compilation of shorts by Amir Muhammad called 6horts. Now there's a VCD I'll be sure to try and track down. Also notable in Stephen's year end wrap is his toss in badmouthing of the R1 cinematic burial that has been the fate of Tears of a Black Tiger for years now. How can a film that got an Un Certain Regard at Cannes 2001 still be unreleased here? Insane.


This is totally unsafe for work, but for lovers of female celebrity nudity this is always an annual list worth waiting for: fakes.net chooses the year's best mainstream nude scenes (Archivo de Famosas has a slightly more European flavored list of similar material in their annual poll).

Chloe, we love you

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Roy Frumkes to again document the dead. Excellent.


Animated News reports that a pair of classics have been added to the National Film Registry: a Popeye cartoon by the great Max and Dave Fleischer and a stop-motion piece by Charley Bowers. Other notable additions this time around: Eraserhead, The Clash of the Wolves, Enter the Dragon, Scott Bartlett's OffOn and Duck and Cover. Not to mention Empire, D.O.A, Swing Time, The Nutty Professor, Maurice Tourneur's The Blue Bird, an Our Gang short and Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers. There's a few more getting archived as well, so take a look at the full list.


An Ant-Man movie? You have got to be kidding me. So where, exactly, is my damned Inhumans movie???

C'mon, this bunch beats the crap out of some guy named after a bug

Monday, December 27, 2004

A pair of great pieces are up at Cinema Scope: Shelley Kraicer (who doesn't write enough at all) examines Beijing film culture in 2004; and Jonathan Rosenbaum (who writes too much) picks over some global DVD discoveries--and also gives a valuable pointer to superhappyfun.


Not much else to do today but peruse some year-end lists: Bloody Disgusting picks their favorites and has a year end roundtable; Masters of Cinema choose their DVD's of the Year; Film Comment comes up with their Top 50; the Village Voice critics have their say; Ebert has put up his list if you go for that sort of thing; and the Digital Bits surveys and ranks the R1 studio classics of 2004 (and picks the right company as the #1 re-issuer of their treasured library--not that it's a hard choice at all with Warners head and shoulders over everyone else).

Trade ya

Thursday, December 23, 2004

10000 Bullets takes a look at one of the recent Shaw Brothers releases from Celestial--and it's yet another gem by Liu Chia-liang.


Don't miss this cool post at cityofsound that talks about LA, the digital filmmaking of Michael Mann's collateral and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. And more.



Bloody Disgusting has a take on the George-Romero-walks-off-the-set rumors that are hanging out there.


Once again, let's piggyback on Twitch, since they've been nice enough to scour the web and discover a great little news site covering Japanese film in English.


Ok, folks. That's all you get for your brief update for the day, 'cause I got to get going on that holiday thing. I won't be completely away from the computer, so it might be that I blog without interruption--but seeing as I'm on vacation until after the New Year, don't be suprised if I miss a day or three. But I'll try not to leave you completely in the lurch. Happy holidays and all that rot.

and to all, a good night

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Fleshbot notes that there's an infamous piece of movie-related art up for auction on ebay: it's Wally Wood's notorious Disneyland Memorial Orgy. (The ebay link is pretty clean, though the piece itself is fairly X-rated).


Inside an inteview with director Alexandre Aja, The Film Asylum uncovers a note or two on the filmmaker's upcoming The Hills Have Eyes remake.


The New York Times (annoying registration required) notes that while the dollar figures rolling in at the box office are fine in 2004, there's a bit of a hitch:

But an increase can be attributed to a rise in ticket prices, up 3.85 percent to an average of $6.25, while attendance fell by 2.25 percent this year after dropping 3.8 percent in 2003.

also salient is the point made by Bob Weinstein:
"It's not that the grosses are getting smaller, it's that the budgets are getting bigger," said Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of Miramax Films. "You cannot have that rise in production and marketing costs of 20 and 30 percent each year, even though attendance is down. Your gross is only going up 2 or 3 or 4 percent."


Now box office attendance in real ticket terms has been sliding since the forties, and the theaters are still in business--so it isn't like they'll all be shuttered next week. But it strikes me that the theater owners may very well be pushing the envelope on just how much people are willing to pay to go see a movie--raw attendance dropping 5-6% in two years isn't the greatest sign. Given the immense popularity of the DVD format (I mean, good lord--the Van Helsing DVD sold two million copies on its first day!), it looks like maybe people are happier than ever to stay home and watch stuff on their nice televisions.


Can I just say that I love Sony Classics? On the heels of the House of Flying Daggers release come spring release dates for Kim Ki-duk's 3-Iron.

Sony brings you Lee Seung Yun.  Thank them by buying a ticket.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Check out the lengthy interview that Animation World has with stop-motion guy Henry Selick. (Hat tip to Animated News).


There's been lots and lots of comic-to-movie news here lately (and heck, my regular review mines this territory XMas week as well), and I'm not completely sure why. Some is a genuine interest in all kinds of fantastic movies, some I guess is because there's so many of these damned things these days, and maybe some is because I read Comic Book Galaxy's year end roundup and realized how out of the loop I was with this stuff so I've gone out and bought a pile of books. Now, I don't think there's any flicks coming out that were made from the work of the likes of Kevin Huizenga, Anders Nilsen, Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca or Andrice Arp, but maybe we can hope for something based on DC: The New Frontier or Planetes. But whatever the cause, my renewed interest in the art of the comic has sure made me note more closely things like what's going on with your favorite mutants the XMen; the latest rumors are for spinoffs of Mystique or perhaps Storm into full length features. Personally, though I found X2 the most enjoyable of any of the recent superhero outings, I continue to think that Halle Berry's work as Storm was, well, awful--so I'm not all that sanguine about this prospect. Me, I'm really happier about the Wolverine film, but here's hoping that the storyline brings back Mariko Yashida (who should we cast here? Kyoko Tayama? Yuki Saito? Yui Natsukawa? there's soooo many options) and gives her a better story arc than those cheap clowns at Marvel did.

Yeah, I wish I could read that text too

Monday, December 20, 2004

Is everyone keeping one eye fixed on the production diaries for Peter Jackson's King Kong? Well, you should be. You probably also want to get out and rent or buy the new DVD of Forgotten Silver, 'cause this New Zealand mockumentary is absolutely worth a look.


The Academy has unveiled the contenders for the Best Visual Effects award.


A superhero movie rumor becomes reality: David Goyer to helm the cinematic version of Barry Allen aka The Flash. When I was a kid, the only DC comic I used to pick up regular was this book by Carmine Infantino--for some reason, even though I generally Made Mine Marvel, The Flash was an exception to my general rule.


Well, I guess it's time for yet another story on the (still, I guess) growing attraction that Asian properties now have for Hollywood. In fact, according to Andrew Lam in the SFGate it's not just cinema--it's all things Asian that are growing in popularity here. Is this all some kind of signal that it really is time for Asia to emerge as the dominant global region in the 21st century in the way that Europe dominated the 19th and the US the 20th? I guess it's a bit early to pass judgement on that--but remember that in Edwardian England they more or less figured the British Empire would last forever, just like many today figure American hegemony is some sort of endless state. Time only will tell.

I for one welcome our new Asian overlords!



Friday, December 17, 2004

Now that I've returned from my Mindspring-inspired day off, I can point out the excellent interview that Michael Barrier has posted with cartoon and live action director Frank Tashlin. (Hat tip to Cartoon Brew).


Now this'd be a nice choice: Henry Selick to direct the film version of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox.


Twitch has a batch of pointers to trailers for three great looking new Asian releases from Palm Pictures; me, I'm most excited about the Kiyoshi Kurosawa flick.


Lately, a lot of my DVD viewing has been in working my way through Universal's sadly extras-poor Columbo Season One set; it's a vastly entertaining season of shows overall. But I kept noticing how nicely it was shot, and then finally I caught on that these shows were photographed by Russell Metty...so it's no wonder why they look so grand. Metty is an Oscar winner (for the cinematography of Spartacus) who shot some great films in his career--most notably Orson Welles' Touch of Evil and Douglas Sirk's amazing, fantastic, over-the-top Written on the Wind.

Ah, Dorothy Malone doing the cha-cha

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Korean animated film Wonderful Days (formerly known as Sky Blue) is getting a US release--Twitch has the details.


There's honestly nothing I like more than screwball comedies from the Golden Age of Hollywood--the combination of newly unleashed dialogue, great directors such as George Cukor, Preston Stuges, Howard Hawks and the like and the most glamorous and talented stars in cinema history makes many of these four star classics. I mean, if you don't like Myrna Loy, Carole Lombard, William Powell and the rest, then I ain't got much use for ya. (Not to mention Eugene Pallette or Eric Blore et al). Anyway, all this is a lead in to slobber over Warner's upcoming Classic Comedies Collection, a box set of six screen gems that includes some of the best in the genre. Two of them will come in SE's with brilliant extras, and since it's Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story that are getting that treatment this package is an absolute must have. I wish a few of the other studios out there reissuing their classic libraries would take a hint from Warners (hello Universal? are you listening?) and treat their back catalog with the respect that it deserves. With their previous Film Noir Collection and now this March comedy release, Warners proves that they really get it.

Would you believe I was once a dashing leading man?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The excellent 10000 Bullets does some comparison shopping between two versions of the great Fritz Lang's M.


This sure ain't safe for work, but if you're curious about that much vaunted scene from Brown Bunny and you don't want to suffer through the whole movie to see it, Fleshbot's got the details.


It's entirely possible that they'll botch the whole thing, but someone's going to try to make a movie and videogame from the Ursula K. Leguin sci-fi novel The Left Hand of Darkness. It's been more years than I care to count since I read that one, but as I remember it the book is pretty darn good.


How would you feel about a Jackie Chan/Zhang Yimou team-up? Sounds OK to me...


I don't care what a poll of 5000 British cinemagoers says--Superman should not be listed as the best superhero of all time. He's too damned dull.



Kaptain Barbell wuz robbed!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Milestone has acquired rights to a late Marcel Ophuls documentary called Veillées d'armes. This one never recieved any US release, so it's sure to be a revelation.


I don't know what's up with the third Xmen movie, but I guess there is definitely a Magneto movie on the way. Villains are soooooo much more interesting than heroes.


It's awards season all 'round the world--as evidenced by the announcement of the 2004 European Film Awards.


Fangoria had a trio of pieces worthy of note just recently: the winners from the Sitges Festival (Park Chan-wook's Old Boy just keeps rolling), a Halloween mask of Marvel's Man-Thing is unveiled and--in the most horrible, scary and frightening news of all--the Olsen Twins may star in the remake of A Tale of Two Sisters. Shudder.

Not the Olsen Twins!?!  NOT THE OLSEN TWINS?!?!

Friday, December 10, 2004

A lengthy piece in Kinoeye examines filmmaker Roman Polanski and the "victim's double vision" in his movies. Oh, and while you're over there be sure and scope out the article on the Brothers Quay and the influence that artist/writer Bruno Schulz has had upon them.


If you've been paying attention, you've no doubt noticed the increased popularity of manga and anime from Japan here in the states over the last year. The Associated Press weighs in with an article on the subject.


Speaking of the Land of the Rising Sun, it sounds like Home Vision's box set of Kinji Fukasaku's yakuza films is really aces. If all my loyal readers would like to take up a collection for my Xmas present, this might could be just the thing...


Today's most stunning news is that bad movie legend Larry Buchanan is dead. Having just supposedly wrapped his "magnum opus", I guess we get one last work from the director of Zontar the Thing From Venus and Mars Needs Women. Maybe it'll do as well as The Passion.

I would travel many parsecs for a date

Thursday, December 09, 2004

A recent update at Mondo Erotico has all sorts of tidbits on some fine films coming to DVD. It's time to start thinking about 2005, so let's do so. I'm sure looking forward to seeing Swedish Wildcats and The Mysterians.


The Movie Blog has a swell little roundup of news on a whole slew of upcoming remakes, from Hideo Nakata's take on The Entity to Scorsese's Infernal Affairs do-over.


Superhero movie news: David Goyer will supposedly be in charge of making a movie of the classic DC character The Flash. It seems like only days ago I was posting rumors about a Thor movie he'd be directing...


Artforum's got their Best of 2004 lists out, with some interesting picks. John Waters' list seems decidedly mainstream--I generally count on him to point me towards a few things off the beaten track, but this time the only thing that I haven't heard of is a movie called Tarnation by Jonathan Caouette. But Artforum's best of is always good for mentioning weird arty film stuff like Rodney Graham's Rheinmetall/Victoria 8 or Memory Bucket by Jeremy Deller.

There's a hole in me bucket

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Mondo Digital looks at the upcoming Artsmagic release of 9 Souls. I don't think this hits shelves until January, so I'm super-jealous.


Eli Roth to helm the remake of Bob Clark's Deathdream. That's promising, at least.


No Pixar for you in 2005, I'm afraid. That's no fun at all.


I've completely neglected to post thus far about Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards, which were given out the other day. Top honors went to Lu Chuan's film Kekexili. Monkeypeaches has the whole scoop. And in other Asian film award news, Old Boy takes top prize in Korea with Jeon Do-yeoun taking the best actress prize. That sure beats being mistaken for a spy!

She doesn't look like a spy...

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

A quick recommendation in case I don't go for a full fledged review of this one: the Artsmagic release of Toshiaki Toyoda's film Blue Spring really, really rocks.


But since I'm home sick today, the rest is just a quickie update: Jackie Chan hurts his back falling from a horse; Universal releases Colossus: The Forbin Project but drops the ball on the DVD (this should come as little surprise to anyone who bought Universal's Columbo First Season set, which has zero extras--not even a lousy insert with credits for the episodes!) and on the animation front the nominations for the Annie Awards are in. Hope that's enough to help you kill a little time. Me, I'm going back to the couch.

A really nice film from a very promising director

Monday, December 06, 2004

Sigourney Weaver's too old for Aliens 5? Say it ain't so.


Oooooooooh. The director of Roller Boogie and Class of 1999 has formed a production company to make a monster movie that sounds like it might star a pterosaur.

Rodan got nothing on me

Friday, December 03, 2004

Today's best comic book news tidbit involves Christopher Columbus directing a Marvel film starring that haughty prince of the sea, The Sub-Mariner. Hey c'mon--it's more exciting than the David Goyer helming a Thor flick or Nick Cassavetes on Iron Man.


The NY Times takes a gander at the current state of China's animation industry. And in other news from that cartoonish front comes the first pic from the upcoming Wallace and Grommit film.


Sometimes, the world hands you something free of charge. I've been campaigning for a long time for a DVD of the 1960 Korean horror film The Housemaid; but it looks like next February I get to see it on film. The woo. And the hoo.


Via Kung Fu Cult Cinema comes this piece on the state of Japan's film today.

Ha! You thought I'd post a pic of a cute Japanese starlet, didn't you?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

They've announced the director for the remake of The Fog, and I can't say that the choice is all that inspiring--it's Rupert Wainwright, a guy whose main claim to fame seems to be that he directed Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em: The Movie. Yikes. (Hmmmm. And shortly after I wrote this, I visited The Movie Blog, who made the exact same point. Kismet.)


In other related news from the Land of the Dead, USA Today has whole report from the set from one of the zombies.


A cast list for Land of the Dead has surfaced, with an interesting note or two--especially the cameo by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. Also worth a look is the presence of Asia Argento, the daughter of the guy who got Romero to go to that apartment in Rome to write Dawn of the Dead.

This blog should be called Cheesecake

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The WaPo (annoying registration required) assesses the relationship between Count Dracula and the country of Romania. Here's the key quote that sums up the situation in a nutshell: "Disdain has given way to the lure of money: Go figure.


If you caught my Romasanta review, you'll know I'm not the biggest fan of actress Elsa Pataky's acting talents. I'll admit though, that it's hard to argue with this. (Aside: this page itself should be safe for work surfing, but the sidebar ad is potential trouble. Just so you know.)


The months fly past and before you know it, it's December. But to Eccentric Cinema I guess it's Giallo month, with reviews from the past peppering the site. I'm all for Edwige Fenech in All the Colors of the Dark, myself.


The early 2005 schedule for Shaw Brothers releases has been posted at the Asian DVD Guide. As always, there's great stuff here but no indication of what they're going to put out on VCD only...but where, oh where is Dirty Ho? Well, at least the Sylvia Chang/Brigitte Lin piece Dream of the Red Chamber is on the way soon.

Sylvia Chang and her Best Actress award

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