Friday, 30 March 2012

Titanic 3D: Just Make it Stop

Titanic 3D poster Leonardo DiCaprio Kate Winslet

So, Titanic 3D is finally here, crashing into CGI icebergs in theatres all over the land. Admittedly, certain scenes in Titanic will probably look very impressive in three dimensions - the scene where the ship cracks in half for instance, or when the people start falling hundreds of feet to their icy deaths. But surely I can't be the only one who is just a bit flabberghasted by, shall we say, the 'indelicacy' of releasing a film about a disaster in which many real people lost their lives in 3D?

I'm not saying that we shouldn't make films about horrible events in which many people died. What I am saying is that we shouldn't make films about horrible events in which many people died, and then dig them up again fifteen years later in order to cash in on the latest technical gimmick while 'experiencing' Jack Dawson freezing to death in the Atlantic 'like never before'. Can't we just let him die? Hasn't the poor bastard morphed into a block of ice and sunk into the depths of Davy Jones' locker enough times by now? It's like he's stuck in some sort of hideous watery Groundhog Day.

Speaking of which, the titanic obsession with the Titanic seems to know no bounds this year, what with ITV's new four episode series chronicling the sinking. From the looks of it, the series (which quick-minded Twitter folks have already nicknamed 'Drownton Abbey') is going to drag the sinking out indefinitely from every possible viewpoint.

Why is everybody so obsessed with the Titanic? Yes, quite a lot of people died that night, and a few of them were rich and famous in their day, but it's been almost a century. They've drowned enough. This whole thing is starting to look ridiculously like Bill Murray's suicide montage from Groundhog Day. No-one in their right mind could possibly have any interest in watching 1517 people drown (again) in 3D. One has to wonder what the execs were thinking when they came up with this gem. Oh, that's right, they were thinking of the money.

More people should be taking a leaf out of the book of Hunger Games director Gary Ross; Ross has said that while he is in charge, none of the Hunger Games films will be shot in 3D because it would cheapen the subject matter (the subject matter being institutionalised child-murder).  It might be nice to see somebody in this industry say no to the extra royalties and yes to a little bit of good taste.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Sundance London

The first ever UK Sundance Festival will be taking place from the 26th to the 29th of April this year. There will be a special selection of 14 films chosen from among those screened in January at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, plus music events and 'An Evening with Robert Redford' on the opening night.

Those of us who invested in advanced ticket packages have this week been gearing up make our film choices online - apparently I will get half an hour to make my choices, starting from 9 am tomorrow. This is slightly nerve-wracking, but hopefully it will all come right in the end. This morning I have been extremely organised, and made three seperate ticket booking plans - Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. Now let's just hope I don't oversleep and the internet doesn't choose tomorrow morning to play silly buggers. Otherwise, I'll have to get my tickets at the O2 box office with the common herd.

Anyway, the films I am most looking forward to seeing at the festival are:

Nobody Walks – The story of a family who take a young artist into their home, directed by Russo-Young.
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty – A partly animated film by Terence Nance. An artist considers the ideas of experience and emotion after he is stood up on a date.
The Queen of Versailles – A documentary about a billionaire couple who have built a 90,000 foot square mansion based on the palace at Versailles.

For Ellen – A drama starring Paul Dano and directed by So Yong Kim. A struggling musician must drive overnight to fight his estranged wife for custody of their daughter.
LUV – With an appearance from Danny Glover, drama LUV is set over the course of one day and shows a shy thirteen-year-old boy bonding with his troubled uncle.
Chasing Ice – A documentary by Jeff Orlowski highlighting the dangers of climate change through the work of National Geographic photographer James Balog. The film follows Balog as he crosses the arctic capturing disappearing ice fields with time-lapse cameras.
Finding North – A documentary looking into issues of food supply and hunger in the United States, the richest country in the world.
The House I Live In – A Documentary by Eugene Jarecki examining America’s ‘war on drugs’ and how it has destroyed families and communities in the US without ever seeming to have an effect on the drug trade.
Surprisingly the Grand Jury Prize Winner from Utah, Beasts of the Southern Wild, is not going to be screened in London, which is a bit disappointing - however, the line up is still looking pretty good, if a little documentary-heavy. If I play my cards right (and the darn thing hasn't sold out already) I may even be able to get in to see the Sundance Kid himself, Robert Redford. I'll post an update when I've recovered from the ordeal of booking...

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Review: The Doom Generation

A modern classic of cult indie cinema, Gregg Araki’s The Doom Generation is finally coming to DVD. The tagline of ‘sex, mayhem, whatever’ lets us know what we’re in for as we are submerged in this maniacally grisly update of the ‘couple-on-the-run’ movie.

The film follows young lovers Amy Blue (Rose McGowan) and Jordan White (James Duval), who have been together all of three months (practically a lifetime for disaffected grunge kids). Trash-mouthed speed-freak Amy is Lolita’s evil twin, while her endearingly dim-witted boyfriend Jordan tags along after her like a puppy. Bored out of their alienated teenage minds, they are suddenly pounced upon by a ruggedly handsome drifter named Xavier Red (Johnathon Schaech), initiating a wild road trip complete with sex, drugs and gruesome murder.

Click on the link below to

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

James Cameron Returns from Avatar Fact-Finding Trip

"Well, I've lived on this planet all my life, and I've never been to the Mariana Trench. I figured it was about time!"

Avatar director James Cameron has safely returned from his trip to the Mariana Trench at the bottom of the sea. He is now the first person ever to have made a solo dive to the Challenger Deep, the lowest known point of the Earth's crust, which is 36,000 feet, or seven miles, beneath the surface of the ocean.

It was understood that the trip, which is a fulfilment of a lifelong dream for Cameron, was partly in order to gather inspiration for Avatar 2. The second epic sci-fi is reportedly going to concentrate on the oceans of Pandora, the mineral-rich neon jungle planet of the blue Na'vi people.

While his experiences in the trench (which is bigger than the Grand Canyon) may have impressed Cameron, it looks as though he will have to return to the magical landscape of his own imagination to really flesh out the Pandoran sea-scapes. Cameron has spoken to reporters of what he discovered while in the briny deep:

"When I got to the was completely featureless and uniform. My feeling was one of complete isolation from all humanity...More than anything, (it's) realising how tiny you are down in this big, vast, black, unknown and unexplored place."

Apparently the only living creatures he clapped his eyes on down there were a few shrimp-like arthropods. The dull crustaceans and featureless underwater wastelands of our own planet will surely not be enough to inspire an ocean world exciting and colourful enough to look good in on an IMAX screen in three dimensions. Although, having said that, the footage of Cameron's expedition is indeed being turned into a 3D documentary, which will receive a theatrical release.

Interesting as our planet is, I think I'll be giving that one a miss and waiting for Avatar 2, which is scheduled for release in 2016 or thereabouts (was supposed to be 2014, but that darn Trench got in the way). I'm expecting coral formations the size of buildings,  burning red sharks with four eyes, and glow-in-the-dark fish brighter than the sun. Anything less would just be a cop out.

Also, I wonder if Jake's starting to miss TV yet. I mean, you can only sit around watching those floating seed things for so long, right?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Violence in the Films of Michael Haneke

Film violence is one of the most highly contested issues in cinema. The problem of what can or should be depicted onscreen, and how explicit it can be, is the source of dispute among filmmakers, censors, critics, and viewers alike. Often the most insightful thought comes from filmmakers who are able to articulate their views through film itself. As director and critic Jacques Rivette wrote, “The only true criticism of a film is another film” (Cahier 84, 1958). For Austrian director Michael Haneke, violence and ideas surrounding its cinematic depiction are crucial.

Click on link below to

Violence in the Films of Michael Haneke at Subtitled Online

Above is an article I wrote for Subtitled Online, a great website with the aim of getting more English speakers to fall in love with foreign film (let's be honest, we really don't make enough of an effort). I've always been really interested in the concept of screen violence and the effect it has on both film and viewer; Austrian director Michael Haneke is also preoccupied with this theme, so I wrote an article looking at the way he depicts and analyses violence in his films.

Also, the final count for The Hunger Games opening weekend was $155 million, making it the third highest opening of all time, beaten only by The Dark Knight at $158.4 million and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 at $169.2 million)

Three reasons why The Hunger Games has gone stellar

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Hunger Games: Odds are definitely in their favour...

"The Hunger Games Movie Poster"

So, if the figures are anything to go by, Katniss Everdeen is never going to go hungry again. The Hunger Games has had the fifth best opening day ever, earning a ridiculous $68.3 million. In fact, this is the best opening day ever for a non-sequel - pretty impressive when you think about it. After today, The Hunger Games is likely to have taken in $150 million (maybe more) over its opening weekend, meaning that not only will the film make it into the top five biggest opening weekends ever, but also that it has beaten every single Twilight movie into the ground like a tent peg.

The Hunger Games has gone stellar so quickly for three very simple reasons:

1. It's based on a series of bestselling books

If there's one thing film producers have learned in the new millennium, it's that if you manage to get hold of the rights to a series of already bestselling books, especially Young Adult bestselling books, you may as well open that offshore bank account right now before you've even got anything to put in it. You've got yourself a loyal fan base vacuum-packed and ready to go; it doesn't even matter if your film is actually any good, because they'll turn up and shell out for it anyway.

2. Katniss Everdeen/Jennifer Lawrence

After the awful mess that Bella Swan/Kristen Stewart got us into over at Twilight Towers, female film fans have been crying out for a decent heroine. Now, we can point to Katniss Everdeen/Jennifer Lawrence and yell "Look! We're not all clumsy sour-faced pencil-thin weaklings! We can do stuff too!" That stuff being sacrifice ourselves for others, save our families from starvation, incite rebellion in the districts, and be darn handy with a long-bow.

3. They've actually bothered to make this into a decent film

As pointed out above, due to the already strong fanbase built up by the books, The Hunger Games could very easily have got away with being bad. Many, many people would still have parted with their cash. But, being that it's actually very good as a film in itself, even without the books to back it up (see my review here), this means that even more people will be trooping along to the theatre to see what all the fuss is about.

All of which adds up to a ludicrously large amount of money for anyone who got in on the ground level. Perhaps Disney, after their recent haemorrhage over John Carter, could take a few tips from Lionsgate on this one.

PS. Just a small note to say that this is KINOLENS' 50th post! Huzzah.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Almodovar: Latest Victim of Social Network Slasher

Yesterday afternoon I was in the middle of writing a Top Ten list of the best characters in the films of Pedro Almodovar. I decided to take a break for a few minutes and logged onto Twitter, where I was surprised to find that while I'd taken my eye off the ball for an hour or so, the iconic Spanish director had mysteriously died.

This was according to a tweet from an account supposedly belonging to Spanish finance minister, Cristobal Montoro, which stated simply "Spanish government announces the death of Pedro Almodovar". The sad news was then retweeted all across the interwebs, with many claiming to be in tears as they mourned the death of the great director. 

I spent a frantic minute or so searching for more information, before it finally became clear that both the account and the tweet were fakes. Wherever Almodovar was at that moment, he was alive and kicking, and probably also filming something involving tranvestites, transsexuals, prostitutes, or all of the above.

In retrospect, everybody should have known immediately that it was a fake. The original tweet only uses 61 out of a possible 140 characters. I think if I was tasked with announcing the death of Pedro Almodovar on Twitter, I'd use all the space possible - something along the lines of "The government regrets to announce death of auteur Pedro Almodovar in a freak boating incident. Naked teens are covering his corpse in roses."

And even so, Almodovar can't die. Just take a look at the bastard. Sometimes you hear a rumour of someone's death, say Whitney Houston or Amy Winehouse, and you don't even think to question it. When you hear a rumour of Pedro Almodovar's death, the first thing you think (after "Oh God, what will become of us all?") is "Bullshit. There's another victim of the Social Network Slasher if ever I saw one."

Other famous victims have included Eddie Murphy, Justin Bieber and Adam Sandler. To be honest, I think the news of Almodovar's possible demise excited more sadness than all three of those put together (although now that I think of it, can you imagine if Justin Bieber suddenly died? What would the Beliebers do? They'd either kill themselves or everyone else. Let's hope for the former; I wouldn't want to have to fight off an army of hysterical Beliebers. They'd cut us down like corn).

Anyway. Almodovar is alive and all is right in the jungle.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Review: John Carter

For my review of John Carter at Movie Farm, see the link below:

John Carter Review

As you may be aware, during the last week or so Disney/Pixar has been forced to shamefacedly admit that they have screwed up big time with John Carter.

They spent $250m making the film, and an estimated $100m on marketing. They expect to lose $200m on the movie (about £126m). So far, the film has only taken in about $184m worldwide (and about half of that goes straight into the pockets of the theatres themselves). Disney has already announced cutbacks as a result of this, starting with new Johnny Depp film The Lone Ranger, which has reportedly had about $50m sliced off its budget.

It has to be said that John Carter is pretty bad. But there are plenty of films out there that are bloody awful and have still made a mint at the box office. The reasons for John Carter's failure are more to do with gross misjudgements of the market, meaning that almost nobody has bothered going to see the thing in the first place.

Depsite spending $100m on advertising, the campaign for John Carter seemed almost non-existent, and when you did stumble across a poster or a TV spot, it didn't exactly send you sprinting for the nearest cinema (probably because the story itself is so long-winded and ludicrous that it's impossible to coherently condense it into a decently tantalising advert). Plus, two almost complete unknowns were cast in the major roles, cancelling out any potential viewers that might have been swayed by the draw of some bigger names.

And then there's the title: John Carter. The choice to give the film such an uninspiring moniker is only really understandable once you have actually seen it; the whole 'John Carter of Earth'/'John Carter of Mars' thing. But to get people to actually want to see your film, you have to be a little bit more creative. Keeping a science fiction element in the title might have done the trick: Barsoom, A Princess of Mars, John Carter of Mars, Battle for Barsoom, Warlord of Mars, even A Tale of Two Planets. All of these would have been better than just John Carter, and the choice makes even less sense when you consider that Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote eleven, count them, eleven Barsoom novels, and all of their titles ended with the words 'of Mars'. Why they chose to ignore that obvious marketing technique, we will never know.

So there you have it, even good old dependable Disney occasionally puts their foot in it. Still, it is pretty sad that the worth of a film is based ever more on how much it can rake in rather than whether it's actually any good or not. Unfortunately it looks as though John Carter is scoring high in neither category.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Review: The Hunger Games

Here for your perusal is my review of new KINOLENS Film of the Moment The Hunger Games for Movie

The Hunger Games Review at Movie Farm

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Ten Good Reasons to watch Game of Thrones

Due to working on various other projects and whatnots, I haven't had much time to get down the old picture house lately (and even if I had, there's pretty much sweet fuck all on mainstream release at the moment that is worth even a cursory up-chuck into your popcorn holder). Therefore, I have been neglecting KINOLENS somewhat, which is a pretty sad state of affairs.

However, in the absence of anything particularly interesting to say about cinema this week, I offer instead a list of ten reasons why you should pull your head out of that Stieg Larsson book, switch off Den Som Draeber, and otherwise ignore anything and everything that is going on in the real world until you have hacked, burned and slashed your way through the entirety of HBO's Game of Thrones (based on the books by George R. R. Martin).

1. We ain't in Middle Earth no more Mr Frodo

When you first heard about Game of Thrones, you may have written it off because you thought to yourself: "I can't be doing with any more of this Lord of the Rings style fantasy horse-shit full of pointlessly epic journeys, jigging elves and gurning goblins et cetera". Let's be honest, you were well within your rights to think that. But really, if Game of Thrones has anything even remotely to do with Lord of the Rings, it's that GOT is LOTR's twisted, deformed, drooling, limping, inbred, insane cousin who shows up at family weddings only to piss on the cake before raping the bridesmaids and setting fire to the vicar. There are no orcs, no goblins, no magic rings, no pointy-eared princesses, no forests made of silver and gold, and definitely no fucking singing. What there is is snow, blood, sex, curse words, beheadings, burnings, rapes, and more wolves than you can shake a stick at.

2. Characters you actually care about

In many television programmes it can be hard to get attached to any of the characters, mostly because they are all sickeningly Godawful imitations of human beings. But, despite being set in a fantasy world, Game of Thrones manages to provide us with some of the most deep, realistic, enigmatic characters you will ever see on television. There's Jon Snow, bastard son of Eddard Stark, member of the Night's Watch and in search of his lost mother. There's Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf younger brother of Jaime and Cersei, a wine-swilling, whore-mongering, book-reading, smart-quipping genius - but whose side is he on? Arya Stark, Catelyn Tully, Rob Stark, Littlefinger - the list goes on. Everyone has their agenda, and no-one is absolutely good or bad. Which brings me to...

3. Death

As I've already said, it's impossible not to have favourites among these characters (see 2), which can be a bit unnerving considering that anyone and everyone is constantly at risk of sudden and probably gory death. Anybody can die in Game of Thrones. Nobody is safe. Everybody is at risk. I can't stress this enough. These bastards are tricky; they could spend five series letting you get to know and love a character before suddenly knocking his block off and chucking his carcass in the river. The axe could come down at any time and on anyone; it makes you wish you had eight eyes in your head.

4. Direwolves

Wolves. You know, wolves; those big furry fearsome dog looking things that can jump on your enemies and rip their throats out, alert you to danger, help pack your suitcase, chomp on Prince Joffrey's arm, and various other such useful tasks. I'm ostensibly a 'cat person', but even I wouldn't say no to having a massive Direwolf to feast upon my enemies.

5. Dragons

Dragons. You know, Dragons; those big lizard looking things that can fly through the sky, breathe fire, and lay waste to the countryside sending the peasants and leppers running and stumping for the hills. They're pretty much the old-school answer to Napalm. But in the world of Westeros, unfortunately they are extinct. Or are they...

6. Daenerys 'Stormborn' Targaryen


She starts off as little sister to Viserys 'I am the Dragon' Targaryen, who thinks he's the rightful heir to the Iron Throne due to his father and older brother being booted out during the revolution headed by Robert Baratheon and aided by Jaime 'Kingslayer' Lannister and Eddard 'Winter is Coming' Stark (keep up). She is sold in marriage to Khal 'I can rip a man's tongue out through his throat' Drogo, a Dothraki horselord. However, she comes up trumps after becoming their queen; getting out on her own (and away from the influence of her slimy older brother) gives her a new sense of purpose, and she gradually turns into one of the most interesting, strong-willed and blood-thirsty characters in the series. And she knows a surprising amount about Dragons as well (see 5).

7. Those Dirty Lannisters

They're the blonde bitches you love to hate. Goddamn, I hate those Lannisters. I am literally grinding my teeth in joyful anticipation of the episode in which Cersei and Jaime Lannister find themselves hung from the nearest Heart Tree, gutted or decapitated (I don't particularly mind which) on the nearest Stark-wielded blade, or ripped to bloody ribbons on the teeth of a handy Direwolf. And let's throw in Joffrey Lannister-Baratheon, the original double-barrelled bastard, just for good measure. We can all bond over despising that pug-faced little troglodyte.

8. The Night's Watch/The Wall

The Wall is an epically impressive ice barrier that stands between the Northlands and the real-proper-shit-a-brick-scary Northlands. The Night's Watch is an elite corps of bastards, rapists and ex-noblemen, most of whom are press-ganged into taking a vow of service and celibacy in order to hang out shivering on top of the Wall, constantly vigilant for whatever beasts and ghoulies might take it into their heads to travel South for the Winter. And Winter Is Coming. Which brings me to...

9. The White Walkers

The White Walkers...what are they? Nobody really knows yet. All we know is that they live North of the Wall, are thought by most right-thinking men to have died out thousands of years ago, and are so blood-curdlingly terrifying that it is rumoured they could scare the webbed toes off of Ashton Kutcher with a single glance. Oh, and the people they kill come back to life with weird icy blue eyes and a hunger for the flesh of their fellow man.

10. Tyrion Lannister. Just Tyrion Lannister.

Warning - a few spoilers in video.