What We’ve Been Watching – Issue #2

Paths of Glory4.5/5

Stanley Kubrick’s intimate World War I film ranks amongst the best war films of all time. Dissimilar to most in the genre, this is less worried about epic battle scenes (although there is one continuous shot of soldiers advancing into battle which is mesmerizing) and more about personal relations of people and consequences of certain of their actions, even if the result of those actions is not necessarily their fault or intention.

Kirk Douglas, working with Kubrick three years prior to their legendary collaboration with Spartacus, is astonishing as a man who does everything he can to stop the execution of three soldiers who are unfairly prosecuted for retreating from battle. There is a clear sense that Kubrick and Douglas were on the same level when making this film, the camera, guided by Kubrick, just seems to work completely in tandem with Douglas. As much of a master that Kubrick was this is as much Douglas’ film as it is his, with the performance of him taking the centre stage just as much as Kubrick’s directing expertise does.

A group of people singing together is usually and supposed to be a happy thing. But the song at the conclusion of Paths of Glory just makes us feel all the more saddened by what has happened throughout the coarse of the film. Kubrick was indeed a master and Paths of Glory ranks amongst his best. – ROSS

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Kevin Smith gives thumbs up to Star Trek

It appears that J.J. Abrams has produced a rough cut of his new take on the classic Star Trek world. And he has allowed a select few to have a look, one of whom is writer/director Kevin Smith. And according to him it’s looking good. Thanks to TrekMovie.com we have Smith giving it a very positive review, albeit in a very roundabout, “not actually saying what movie it is but strongly implying it” kind of way. Check out his TV interview below:

Host: So thumbs up on The Watchmen, what else you got?

Smith: I saw a movie last night that I cannot talk about.

Host: Was it good?

Smith: It was phenomenal.

Host: Any stars, any break out stars, and do they trek?

Smith: The stars absolutely trek in this film. It is fantastic. Anybody who was worried doesn’t need to be worried–about this film I cannot talk about…It was in very capable hands. The director did a phenomenal job–the director and his crew. Top notch cast and the guy that plays the lead is an instant star. That dude is going to be so famous. He is so wonderful. He picked up a role that I would say is pretty challenging for someone to step into the shoes of, because it is a role that has been played before many times by the same guy.

Host: How do you out Shatner, Shatner?

Smith: I don’t know what you are talking about.

Host: I was just saying that as an expression.

Smith: Yes, absolutely, in a world of expressions, I would agree with that…I am so not good with this game, you are going to bury me man.

Host: We had you on before The Dark Knight and I remember asking you if you could direct a movie like Dark Knight and you said ‘hell no’ it was so far out of your sphere…but I bring that up to preface this. Let’s say a franchise like Star Trek, not that you have seen the movie or we are talking about the movie, but we are talking about it for example. That is something that is so dangerous to attempt. Is that the kind of project you would like to do? Would you like to be the guy who gets to do a movie like that?

Smith: I would not like to be the guy. In the case of something like Star Trek, it would take a really insanely talented filmmaker–storyteller. Like in the case of Star Trek, JJ Abrams. So leave it to the people who are best equipped for it. I am just the guy who should be watching those movies.

This is very good news indeed. As someone who is not at all a fan of Star Trek (I’ve never seen any of the movies and can only vaguely recall the TV series) I am strangely very much looking forward to J. J. Abrams’ takes on it. Since he was one of the people who originally brought us my favourite TV show of all time, Lost, and he was the man behind the insanely fun and original monster movie Cloverfield, I subsequently have every confidence in the man that he is going to give us something special with this.

In my following of the man, Smith has always been someone who’s early opinion of a film has been very trustworthy. I suppose since so many people love his films, filmmakers seem to want to want to show him their movies before pretty much anyone else. They also know that the general movie going audience, those who will end up seeing the movies, see Smith as a movie god and know that people will listen to his opinion. I am certainly one of those people.

Fast and Furious trailer online

The trailer for Fast and Furious (or the fourth film in The Fast and the Furious franchise) has been made available online and provided for you below. Take a look.

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I am not ashamed to admit I rather liked the first Fast and the Furious film. To me it was pure, mindless entertainment that was fun and I find it more rewatchable than most films of it’s type. The second film was a blur of rappers riding around in flashy cars and trying to look tough. And the third I only vaguely remember which doesn’t exactly say it was at all memorable. But I must admit that the trailer for the fourth film in the franchise looks promising to me, with the first minute or so being particularly well done. I am glad they have gone back to the original cast and continuing with the original storyline from the first film; as the tagline says, “New model. Original parts.”

What do you make of the trailer and there being a fourth film in the franchise in general?

Sukiyaki Western Django clip featuring Tarantino

Auteur Japanese director Takashi Miike has his new film Sukiyaki Western Django coming out soon in the US (August 29th), after playing the festival circuit. Now thanks to our friends over at ComingSoon.net we have a clip featuring Mr Quentin Tarantino (an odd casting choice if I ever saw one). Check it out below:


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Now as a loyal fan of both director Takashi Miike and Quentin Tarantino, obviously to see them two work together in any way, shape or form makes me extremely happy. But I will admit Tarantino looks out of place here, I think he hasn’t got it through his head yet that he isn’t an actor…he’s a writer/director, and a damn good one at that. With the exception of his adequate performance in From Dusk Till Dawn (which he wrote the screenplay for, so it was hardly a stretch to pull off his own character) he has proven himself to not have any acting skills. Having said that having heard details about Sukiyaki Western Django, perhaps this odd casting choice suits the loppy feel of the film.

The clip has me even more excited to see this thing, as out of place as Tarantino looks, that 38 seconds looks badass I must say. What do you make of it?

Warner Bros. talks about future DC projects

After the success of The Dark Knight (and the past welcomings of the comic book labels best loved characters with Batman Begins and Superman Returns), Warner Bros. have come out and talked about the status of future DC projects. We get the scoop from our friends over at ComingSoon.net:

“Variety talked to Warner Bros. Pictures President and Chief Operating Officer Alan Horn, Production President Jeff Robinov and Gregory Noveck, Senior VP of Creative Affairs for DC Comics about the challenges of turning more DC properties into movies besides just the “Batman” and “Superman” franchises. Here are a few clips from the article:

Warners and DC (both Time Warner entities) have labored in vain over another Superman, and launches for Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Arrow and Green Lantern. It’s maddening for fans as rival Marvel Comics has successfully begun financing its own slate of pics, first with “Iron Man,” then a reboot of “The Incredible Hulk” this summer.

That could soon change, as Warners is readying to revamp how DC’s properties are developed — changes that could be announced within the next month.”

It seems that DC have been shaken by the surprising success of Iron Man (and The Incredible Hulk; although ‘success’ regarding that is maybe pushing it a bit) , and by the very fact that Marvel has started their own company and seem to be going full steam ahead with it. Having said that they have had, and still are having, major success with a little film called The Dark Knight.

As far as future DC projects go there are some I look forward to seeing on the big-screen but others I couldn’t care less about either way. Wonder Woman and Green Arrow fall very much in the latter category (with Wonder Woman especially being one I can’t see any appeal or general market for). But I would be intrigued about the other two – The Flash and Green Lantern, particularly the latter. I mean for any of you who may not know his power is that he has a ring which allows him to produce effects of undefined power or abundance, it only being restricted by his own willpower. To me that is a very interesting power to portray on-screen and out of possible future DC projects this would be the one I would be most interested in seeing.

What are your thoughts?

Harry Potter pushed back to summer 2009

Along with the Prince of Persia movie being pushed back to 2010, it appears that Warner Bros. have decided to push this falls biggest movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince back from November 2008 to July 2009. We get the story from our friends over at The Hollywood Reporter:

“In a surprise move, Warner Bros. has moved the release date of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” from Nov. 21 to July 17. Warners president Alan Horn blamed last winter’s 100-day WGA strike in large part for the shift, suggesting all the major studios have been hurt in the development of new tentpole films for next summer.

“We are still feeling the repercussions of the writers strike, which impacted the readiness of scripts for other films — changing the competitive landscape for 2009 and offering new windows of opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of,” Horn said. “We agreed the best strategy was to move ‘Half-Blood Prince’ to July, where it perfectly fills the gap for a major tentpole release for midsummer.”

The move also reflects execs’ belief that the “summer season is an ideal window for a family tentpole release,” he said.”

Wow, I wasn’t expecting that at all. I mean I can understand something like Prince of Persia being put back (since it’s not already a successful franchise) but a film that’s part of such a big franchise as this being shoved back almost 9 months? That is not good news.

Who knows what the real reason for the move is; I am going to go with the stated one of it will make more money that way (probably trying to reach closer to the level of the box-office monster that is The Dark Knight too). I’m sure it has nothing to do with the quality of the movie…or does it? We shall find out when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince gets its release on July 17th 2009.

Hype Can Certainly Affect Opinion

I am writing this article having just hours ago watched Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film The Seventh Seal. An interesting film with some gorgeous cinematography and some stellar acting. But did I find it as brilliant, as fantastic, and a masterpiece as so many others found it to be? Sadly no.

This was just one of the countless examples of films I have watched after hearing the hype and praise about them from everyone (including websites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes) and ended up not thinking anywhere near as much of them. It’s a frustrating thing but also inevitable, and I guarantee it will continue happening in the future.

Now having mentioned The Seventh Seal, of which I must say I did still moderately like, I thought I would throw in some others which I had the same experience with.

Apocalypse Now – This is one of the most highly regarded films in history, even stated to be the very best war film ever made. Channel 4 even listed it as the number one film to see before you die. So when I eventually got round to watching it I was sorely disappointed. Again it was the technical filmmaking, the cinematography and acting etcetera, that was what I found high merit in. However I found myself bored, un-interested and overall it felt like an utter chore to sit through.


The Deer Hunter – Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and director Michael Cimino? Certainly a recipe for greatness in my book. However I don’t think I have had a more boring cinematic experience in my life. Dragging on for an excruciating three hours, I was looking at my watch every five minutes during this one. I may have to try it again at some point but all I can remember is I was bored stiff (except, of course, for those harrowing Russian roulette scenes – the only saving grace).


The Exorcist – There’s always a danger when something gets labelled the best of it’s genre when someone then watches it for the first time. The Exorcist is so often given the title of “the scariest film ever made” and I’m sorry but not once did I feel frightened during this movie. Partly down to my knowledge of how the little girl behaves in it and partly down to the fact the film hasn’t aged well but overall I laughed when I should have been scared. I just don’t get why this is hailed as high as it is and in the way it is.

Those are just a few of mine, why not throw in some of yours?

Brad Pitt Joins Inglorious Bastards…..Simon Pegg in talks

Source: Empire/Variety


Well it’s official. Brad Pitt will star in Tarantino’s latest film set to be filmed in October of this year. At the moment he’s the only confirmed star and as Empire reports: Simon Pegg is in talks to play a British Lieutenant, Nastassja Kinski has begun negotiations to play a German movie star and David Krumholtz is likely to join the cast as well.

This is shaping up to be a classic Tarantino cast and hopefully another great Tarantino film.

The Inglorious Bastards ranks continue to swell with Brad Pitt now officially signed on to play a Tennessee hillbilly who leads a band of eight Jewish-American soldiers to take out some rough justice on the Nazis.

Variety reports that Tim Roth was in talks to join the cast, but scheduling difficulties prevented it. Interestingly, their article also says that much of the film’s dialogue will be in either French or German, with subtitles, although Pitt will speak in English.”

Tarantino is set to begin shooting in Germany on October 13 and is still planning to have the film ready for next year’s Cannes Film Festival.  As Empire says; it sounds like a incredibly tight deadline but I’m sure it’ll work.

Lucas Talks Indy V

It was said a little while ago (I believe it was first mentioned at Cannes this year) that there may possibly be a fifth instalment in the Indiana Jones franchise. There was talks first off Shia LeBeouf’s character taking over the lead role and Indy being a secondary, father-figure type character (in the style of what Sean Connery was in the Last Crusade) but now Lucas says a fifth film would yet again have our beloved Indy in the lead role. We get the story from our friends over at Cinematical:

“Less than three months ago, George Lucas was hinting that his Indiana Jones franchise might continue on with Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) as the main character and that Indy (Harrison Ford) would be more of a secondary figure. But MTV Movies Blog now reports that Lucas has had a change of mind and instead plans to make a fifth installment with our beloved hero still in the lead. During promotions for the new Star Wars: Clone Wars movie, he apparently stated that, “Indiana Jones is Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford IS Indiana Jones. If it was Mutt Williams it would be ‘Mutt Williams and the Search for Elvis’ or something.”

This seems a little suspect to me. With the track record of information surrounding the franchise (when it was “We’re doing the fourth, oh wait we’re not doing the fourth. But wait now we are doing the fourth” for years) I don’t know if I can trust much that Lucas says, at least no regarding this set of films. Why would he even consider doing it with LeBeouf’s character as the lead in the first place? It’s about Indiana Jones not Mutt. And this change of mind is a little worrying to me. In my opinion just let the franchise be; the fourth was entertaining but not anywhere near as good as the first three and I doubt they can make a fifth that good either. What do you make of this? Like the idea of another Indy instalment, if so which direction would you like to see it go?

How Well Could The Dark Knight Really Do?

We all knew The Dark Knight would make a lot of money at the box office. But we never knew just how much. A few weeks before it’s release (in the US) there was talk of, “Could The Dark Knight break $100 million opening weekend?” And as the buzz started to rise even more, not just with the online community but with average movie goers, the conversations changed to, “Could The Dark Knight beat Pirates 3’s opening weekend?” It seemed like an unbelievable claim considering the dark nature of the film compared to other summer flicks but not only did it make a ton of money but it easily surpassed the third Pirates of the Caribbean’s opening weekend box office of $151 Million with $158 Million.

Despite the film’s 50% drop in how much money it made the following weekend (in the US) it still made almost $78 million even then, a result most movies would kill for in their first weekend. And it’s continued to rise from opening day until the present, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to even stop making money at this point. And the questions are now raised about how well the film will ultimately do. Will it beat Titanic’s mammoth $600 million in the US? It’s possible but in my opinion not probable. And I guarantee it won’t beat the $1.8 billion set by the Oscar winning blockbuster at the worldwide box office. Despite it being a ridiculous amount on it’s own and practically impossible to see being beaten at this point, The Dark Knight has not done as well in the rest of the world as it has in the US, still considerably well but just not as well.

Right now The Dark Knight is sitting at $394 Million and worldwide it’s $553 Million. If I had to make a prediction I would say it will hit the $500 Million dollar mark and become the 2nd highest grossing film in the US of all time. But I just can’t see it beating that damn boat, although we can all hope, can’t we?