New Trailer for The Conjuring (2013) Brings On the Creepy with Just a Few Claps

This trailer for the upcoming movie The Conjuring may very well be one of the most effective trailers I’ve seen in a long time. Instead of leaving me with the feeling that I’ve already seen all that I need to of the movie, it does a great job, in my view, of drawing one in, and leaving the viewer with that “I want to see more of this” feeling. Plus, I’m definitely a sucker for a good ghost story/haunted house flick, and if the actual movie holds up to the promise of this trailer, then I’m definitely om board.

Seriously. Chills.

So what do you think? Does this one work for you? Lemme know below.

Just How Much of Today’s Movies Are “Real”, and Does It Matter? – Sin City: The All Green Version

Sin City (film)
One of the many posters for Sin City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s start today with what, in some ways, may be one of the most interesting looks at how movies are being made today.

Of course, we all know that much of what we actually see in the final product that appears on the screen is not the product of movie makers venturing outside the studio, finding the perfect location, assembling all of the actors, crew, and others that are necessary for shooting, hoping that the lighting is right, taking into account the weather and whatever other variables may need to be accounted for, and then committing the results to film. Instead, much of the work is done inside a studio, shot with digital cameras, then later processed by people working on computers to provide backgrounds, the proper atmosphere, etc. That fact is something we all simply either take for granted, ignore, or are simply unaware of.

Of course, if you’ve been following any of the debate over digital movie making over shooting on film, you’ve likely seen various video outtakes showing how objects or locations may be changed or enhanced after shooting in order to fit into the directors vision. Sometimes, however, it’s surprising just how little of a movie is actually what most people would consider “real” – in other words. how little of it actually does involve interaction with actual locations or even objects that appear within the scene.

Marv walking through the rain in the The Hard ...
This is the kind of look the film makers were trying to realize on the screen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Which brings us to a very interesting video put together by the co-director (along with original graphic novel writer/artist Frank Miller and “special guest director” Quentin Tarantino) of 2005’s Sin City, Mr. Robert Rodriguez.

Now, however you may feel about the final product, there can be no doubt that the creators of this movie set out to make something very visually stylized. Their objective was, almost literally, to bring the pages of the graphic novel to the screen. How well did they accomplish this? Well, I’ll let you judge that for yourself with a short clip from the movie:

(***SPOILER ALERT*** The clip does involve the fate of one of the movie’s main characters, so if you don’t want to know this, you might want to skip it. Also, it could very well be considered NSFW for the violence it contains.)

So, just exactly how did they get this particular look? Well, there’s obviously a lot of digital manipulation going on after the shooting was done. Color correction, cgi blood, etc. All the things we’ve pretty much come to expect when watching big blockbusters today. But what may surprise you is just how much of the movie was made in a computer. That’s where what Mr. Rodriguez’s is calling “The All Green Version” comes in.

What Rodriguez has done, as he explains in the introduction to this video, is to take the shooting footage of the entire film, compile it, and then compress it so that it runs less than ten minutes. That ten minutes, however, is extremely fascinating, especially for those who are interested in what goes om behind the scenes in movie making, and in the digital versus film debate. Here, go ahead and take a look:

I have to admit that upon first viewing this, the only reaction I had was a rather stunned “Wow.”. Now, of course, there are all kinds of debates that could be had stemming from this. Obviously, there is the whole digital versus film discussion. Some, of course, would argue that making a movie this way is “cheating”. But I wonder actually just how different this type of movie making is from it’s original studio-bound origins. Let’s not forget that from its earliest days, narrative film making (as opposed to documentaries, for example) has been all about creating illusions on the screen. When one gets right down to it, how different is the clip above from what we see in this trailer for the highly-acclaimed German expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligary?

Obviously, Caligary, with its tilted camera angles and set-design where everything is at least slightly (and usually very-much) askew is going for a particular look that helps in evoking the tone and impact of the scenes it is presenting, but if one is honest, isn’t that exactly what Rodriguez and his cohorts were doing also? Really, in some ways, other than the fact that the sets for Robert Wiene’s film had to be built by hand before the film could be made, rather than in a computer afterwards, it could be argued that Sin City is actually a throw-back film to those earliest days of movie making where everything else was in service to telling the story, to realizing the look and feel – the vision, if you will – that the director was going for on the big screen.

And in the end, isn’t that what real visionary movie making is all about?

Poll Results

smokeSo the poll results are in, and… well, it turns out it was a tie. So, I threw the top vote getters into a hat, pulled one out, and the winner is: 1995’s Smoke. So, sometime next week, look for my thoughts on it.

And if you voted for something else, well, don’t worry, they’re all on the list, so I will get to them eventually.

So, a special thanks to everyone who voted, and look for another poll coming soon.

And, until next time, Happy Viewing.

Juliet Binoche To Fight Godzilla?

Okay, I usually don’t post this kind of thing. I really don’t want this to be one of those latest news/rumor type sites, but since this particular story is about the confluence of two things I absolutely love, I’m definitely willing to make an exception.

Sorry, big guy, but you may have just met your match (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to this article in Variety, one of my favorite actresses (and in my mind, one of the classiest and most stunning women in the world of film), Juliette Binoche is in negotiations to join the cast of Gareth Edwards’ upcoming Godzilla remake/reboot. Honestly, this Godzilla movie becomes more and more intriguing the more I hear about it. According to early word, the movie is going to be much closer in tone to the Japanese original than to the later sequels and certainly than the most recent American version. Thankfully. Also, with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen reportedly also ready to join the cast, and Pacific Rim producer Mary Parent working behind the scenes, this new Godzilla may really be something to look out for.

(BTW, just om a side note, Pacific Rim is one of my most anticipated blockbusters for this summer. Again, at first I was skeptical, but it keeps looking better and better.)

Anyway, back to Binoche. For those who may not know her, here she is in a short clip from the first movie I ever saw her in, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Bleu, part of his Trois Couleurs trilogy:

She’s also starred in films such as Chocolat, The English Patient, Cache, and last year’s Cosmopolis which was directed by David Cronenberg and starred current “man of the hour” Robert Pattinson, but this would be her first turn in a real American blockbuster, and while I would hate to see her turn her lovely eyes completely toward Hollywood, if it helps to bring her to the awareness of an entirely new audience, then that is definitely a good thing.

More Film Preservation News – UCLA Festival of Preservation and the Library of Congress

Another couple of quick notes on preservation efforts that have crossed my desk today:

On the other end of the country from my previous post, the 2013 UCLA Festival of Preservation will be kicking off this Saturday, March 1, at the Billy Wilder Theater in Los Angeles.  As the director of the Festival puts it,

After last year’s herculean effort to put together the massive L.A. Rebellion program, now touring North America, the Archive has not rested on its laurels, but has put together a new UCLA Festival of Preservation for 2013. It is my great pleasure, as director of UCLA Film & Television Archive, to introduce the 2013 “FOP,” which again reflects the broad and deep efforts of UCLA Film & Television Archive to preserve and restore our national moving image heritage. Even in an era of tightening budgets and ever decreasing University-State funding, the Archive is committed to protecting and celebrating our film and television assets.

A full list of the films to be shown (which looks to be a pretty incredible line-up of films ranging from classic movies to independent cinema and cutting across a broad swath of genres) and more info on the festival can be found here.

Also, I thought I’d take just a moment to share with you this video from the CBS Evening News a few nights ago which talks about the preservation efforts that are being carried out by the Library of Congress not only on films but audio and other video recordings. Unfortunately it doesn’t appears to be embeddable, but you can watch it at this link:

Obviously, the efforts of the LOC and many others are extremely important in preserving the legacy of our shared cultural history, or as the CBS report puts it, to “re-record America’s cultural past and preserve it for our digital future”, and those efforts should be celebrated, praised, and supported.

Restored and Re-Released – Fritz Lang’s M (1931) To Get Theatrical Tour Thanks to Kino Lorber

Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert, gazing into a sho...
Peter Lorre stops running just long enough to try to figure out how he’s going to get to see the restored version of ‘M’. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fritz Lang‘s 1931 masterpiece M is one of those movies that has long been on my “I really just need to sit down and watch that” list, and recently I had a chance to do just that, thanks to a friend loaning me the Criterion DVD version (thanks Justin!) and I’ll be doing a write-up on my impressions of the film soon, but today I got some very exciting news about a newly restored print that appears to soon be making the rounds.

According to this article from the Film Forum website, the film has undergone a complete restoration thanks to the combined efforts of TLEFilms Restoration & Preservation Services (Berlin), Archives Françaises du Film — CNC (Paris) and inPostFactory (Berlin). This is a full 2K restoration, including not only new subtitles, but a full 7 minutes of extra footage that has been missing from previous versions. This newly restored version is to begin touring at the Film Forum with screenings starting March 15th, and presumably will be making the arthouse rounds soon thereafter. Plus I’m sure the announcement of a new Kino Blu-Ray can’t be far behind.

For more info on this newly restored version and the film itself,  (and, if you’re lucky enough to live in New York, to but tickets to the Film Forun screenings) just click the link above or to watch the trailer for the criterion release of the film just click below.

Just a Quick Poll Reminder

Not a lot of time for writing today, unfortunately, but I did want to remind everyone that I’ll be closing the poll tomorrow evening, so if you’ve been putting off voting or haven’t yet for whatever reason, now is the time to do it! It’ll only take a second and the input would mean a lot to me. Just look in the sidebar to the right and cast your choice for one of the movies I’ll be watching and writing about next week.

Once again, your choices are:

Nuvola filesystems desktop poll

1) Compliance (2012)

2) Smoke (1995)

3) Tremors (1990)

4) The Thief of Bagdad (1924) or

5) Fear In the Night (1947).

For full details and trailers for each of the movies just see this post.

There haven’t been many votes, so the chances a good that your choice will win!

Thanks, and Happy Viewing!

The Dump Bin: A Few Movie-Related Links

Yep, it’s link-dump time. Here are a few articles that I’ve enjoyed looking at lately that really don’t need much comment fr0m me, so I’m just passing them along.

1) First up is an article from Movie Morlocks entitled Forgotten Oscar: 1928 -1934 Edition. In it they discuss early Oscar nominees that have unfortunately been lost to the ravages of time. Here’s an excerpt:

Eforgotten-oscar-the-racket-01ach year the Oscars ignite arguments between movie lovers between what did win and what didn’t win, what could have won and what should have won.  And more often than not, by the very next year, they’re all forgotten.  Since the Oscars don’t exactly measure true quality, most movie lovers take the whole dog and pony show with a grain of salt.  It’s peer recognition and we all understand that which is why it’s so disconcerting to see such hyperventilated fights each year about the winners (seriously, who cares?).  But when we say that “next year no one remembers who won” that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten the movie, just the award.  Even if the general public doesn’t know many of the Best Picture winners from yesteryear, most cinephiles do. However, if you go back to the twenties and thirties, you’ll find some of the nominees have been tragically lost, ignored and all but forgotten.

To read the rest of the article, just click on the link above.

2) Next, from one of my favorite time-sucking sites,, a list of 5 Annoying Trends That Make Every Movie Look the Same.

From #5, Movies are Color-Coded by Genre:

What’s Going On?

27914It’s called digital color correction. Back in the day, if you wanted your movie to have an artistic, stylish color palette, you had to go through the pain in the ass process of using filters on your lights and camera, or get the footage exposed just the right way. It was expensive, it was difficult and it was limited to people who really knew what they were doing. So if someone took the trouble, it meant they had a good reason, dammit.

Now? If you’re a Hollywood director, with a few clicks of the mouse you can immediately look stylish and artsy by making the audience feel like they’re watching your movie through a pair of novelty sunglasses. Hell, if you’ve got a Mac and a thousand bucks, you can get a color-correction program and give your home movie of a toddler farting on a cat an otherworldly green tint.

The Coen brothers didn’t invent it, but Oh Brother, Where Art Thou was the first movie to heavily use digital color correction, to the point that every frame was digitally colored to give it that old-timey sepia tone.

Again, the entire article is available at the link above.

3) From Grand Old Movies comes an article detailing why 1933 may be Hollywood’s Second Greatest Year.

33-pictureWhile most film scholars, critics, and fans consider 1939 to be classic-era Hollywood’s greatest year (start with Gone With The Wind and work up from there), New York City’s Film Forum is making a case for the year 1933 as the cinematic annus mirablis. Beginning Friday, February 8, 2013, the city’s pre-eminent revival cinema is running “1933: Hollywood’s Naughtiest, Bawdiest Year,” a four-week series on the films released during the year that can be thought of as the depth of the Depression and the height of pre-Code. The result was a torrent of some of the most freewheeling, energetic, and radical movies ever to sizzle on this country’s screens.

4) Next, lists The Top 50 Movies Never Nominated For Best Picture at the Oscars. This is from the intro to the list:

In the last month before the Oscars, you’ll race through as many Best Picture nominees as you can, resting assured that you’re tackling the best that Hollywood has to offer for the year. Well, not so fast. We put together this list of 50 amazing movies that weren’t nominated for Best Picture, and you won’t believe some of the films that never even got close to the Academy’s highest honor.

Cutting this list down to 50 was a painful task, but we went the extra mile, ranking them in descending order. The truth, of course, is that all of these movies could fit neatly in the top 10. Our writers Laremy Legel, Elisabeth Rappe and Joe Reid make the case for why Oscar was a fool to leave these gems out.

5) Finally, one that’s more for your viewing, instead of reading, pleasure. I mentioned time-sucking sites above when I was talking about Cracked, but as far as film-centric sites that you can completely get lost (in the best of ways) in, there may be none mre incredible than Cinephilia & Beyond. Here’s just one post which links to what they call “All the essential documentaries on Alfred Hitchcock“. Now whether this really is all of them I can’t say, but there certainly are a lot. Here’s the list:

tumblr_mdjf1iFFVE1rovfcgo1_1280All the essential documentaries on Alfred Hitchcock, including Hitchcock: Shadow of a Genius (1999), The Men Who Made the Movies: Alfred Hitchcock (1973), Reputations: Alfred Hitchcock (1999), In the Master’s Shadow: Hitchcock’s Legacy (2008), Paul Merton Looks at Alfred Hitchcock (2009), American Masters: Hitchcock, Selznick and the End of Hollywood (1999), Alfred Hitchcock Directs ‘Frenzy’ in 1972, Hitchcock: Alfred the Great (1994), Alfred Hitchcock – Masters of Cinema (Complete Interview in 1972), and A Talk with Hitchcock (1964).

And yes, most of the docs are right there on the page for your viewing pleasure, along with notes.

Okay, that should give you plenty to read and/or view either while you’re waiting for tonight’s Oscar broadcast, or as an alternative to it. Hopefully you’ll find something here that you like. And if you have suggestions for great movie-related sites or articles, don’t be shy, let me know in the comments below.

And, as always, Happy Viewing!

“Goofy 80s Fun” – Highlander (1986)

Highlander (franchise)
Connor MacLeod (of the Clan MacLeod) has a Mighty Big Sword(TM) And Mighty Big Hair,(TM) And A Mighty Big Fur(TM) And a Mighty Big Kilt(TM). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, I’m really not going to spend a lot of time on this one, because the headline kind of says it all. I don’t know that I’ve actually sat down and watched this flick since it was first out in the 80’s, but I knew I had fond memories of it, and figured my daughter Hannah would probably enjoy it too. What I didn’t remember was just how much fun this movie really is. We absolutely hooted our way through the whole thing. Of course, it didn’t hurt that about half-way through, Hannah decided that she couldn’t be bothered to even try to remember any of the female characters’ names, and they were all simply named “Susie”. So from that point on, whenever she thought the females were acting stupidly (which, typically for an action flick from this time period meant any time a female was on screen) she’d be shouting things like “Dangit, Susie, he told you to run, so run, girl, run!”

Connor in Highlander: The Animated Series
Even animated Connor has a Mighty Big Sword (TM) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway, let’s take a look at what all we’ve got here. We’ve got electric sword fights. We’ve got heads chopped off. We’ve got a duel that has our hero getting stabbed with a rapier multiple times and continuing on ala the black knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We’ve got Christopher Lambert and his gorgeous eyes. We’ve got Sean Connery claiming to be Egyptian, but sporting a Spanish name and sounding exactly like Sean Connery. We’ve got big 80s hair and lots of eyeliner. We’ve got a Russian punk-styled bad guy who takes our main heroine on a screaming multiple pile-up car ride through the streets of New York. (Well, she’s screaming. She does a lot of screaming. He’s simply BWAH HA HA!!-ing and mugging through the whole thing like he’s having the time of his life.) We’ve got a final showdown that ends with a mystical “I get all the power” animated sequence. We’ve got completely clueless cops. We’ve got romance through the ages. We’ve got a soundtrack by Queen. We’ve got “Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod” And of course, we’ve got “There can be only one” which is actually said 263 times during the movie.

And when it was all over, and I told Hannah that according to Wikipedia there were actually “five Highlander movies, two television series, an animated series, an animated movie, an animated flash-movie series, ten original novels, seventeen comic book issues, and various licensed merchandise”, all she could say was “From that?!?”

Yep, from that. Hey, it was the 80s.

And of course, what makes it even better is that everyone in this movie acts as though we’re supposed to be taking the whole thing seriously. Just look at the trailer:

Anyway, whether it’s completely new to you, or if, like me, it’s got a bit of nostalgic flavor and you haven’t seen it for awhile, watch this movie. Personally I suggest getting a bunch of friends together for a beer and pizza night or something like that and just kicking back and enjoying it. Because you will. Just be prepared for some big goofy 80s fun.

Until next time, Happy Viewing!