December 2007

Quote of the Season: Stifling creativity

We don’t need new laws, we just need new business models.

- James Graham on the increasingly irrational state of the intellectual property industry.

Updated

The register has a rather relevant story explaining how Michelangelos Sistine Chapel ceiling became a commercial property, centuries after the images fell into the public domain.

First footage of Coraline sneaks online

I know I said I wouldnt be blogging again until 2008, but this is too good to ignore. The first few seconds of Coraline - Henry Selicks adaptation of Neil Gaimans novel - have turned up online. The footage is not quite finished but looks absolutely stunning already.

In Coraline the titular character finds herself in a parallel dimension where everybody has buttons for eyes, where Coraline has Another Mother and Another Father. And where Keith David is a cat, and you know what hes going to demand of Coraline when she and her parallel world self meet. Button to button, indeed.

Coraline is due to be released in 2008 and the sneak preview can be found by clicking here.

(Synopsis lifted from CHUD)

Happy Squidmas

Thats me done for another year and I shall be spending the next couple of weeks over-indulging and absolutely not blogging at all. So heres wishing all the best for the festive season and see you in 2008.

In the meantime, heres a seasonal video for you to enjoy and a carol to sing along to.

Galactically Hot

Someone with far too much time on his hands has started compiling a Flickr archive of The Galactically Hot Women of Star Trek TOS (via).

Check it out if youre as sad as I am.

2007: A Look Back

As the year draws to a close and I start preparing for the festive season, now seems to be a good time to take a look back at this years high points as far as independent cinema is concerned. And scrolling back through this years reviews, there were a lot of high points, which has made writing this post rather difficult.

I started off with a list of 30 films that deserved a mention and – for often completely arbitrary reasons - have slowly brought this list down to a list of the ten most memorable films of 2007. So, in no particular order, here they are.

Apocalypse Oz
A strange and colourfully surreal road-trip of a film which cheerfully remixes Apocalypse Now and The Wizard of Oz to tell a wholly new story that comfortably incorporates themes from both of the parent films.

The result is completely familiar and utterly different. And it opens – brilliantly – with the sounds of Pearl and Dean.

Beyond the Gates
Based on real events and shot entirely on location, Beyond the Gates (released in the UK as Shooting Dogs) is a film of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Its a powerfully moving and emotionally draining film but one that is well worth seeing.

Long Pigs
Long Pigs is the story of Anthony McAlistar (Anthony Alviano), an articulate and easy-going character who also happens to be a serial killing cannibal. It is also the story of a pair of young filmmakers who set out to make a documentary about the – as yet uncaught – McAlistar and who cross the line from being neutral observers to become complicit in his crimes.

This is one of the most intelligent and genuinely disturbing horror films that I’ve seen in a long time. It is also a film that very effectively asks the audience to think seriously about the way in which the media blurs the line between reportage and exploitation.

Provoked
Based on the true story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, Provoked is a serious attempt to address the issue of domestic violence. While it does feel a little worthy at times, the film avoids descending into sentimentality largely due to the stellar performances of the three main characters.

The real-case of Kiranjit Ahluwalia was a legal landmark that helped create a new defence in court for women suffering from domestic violence. Provoked successfully shows how one woman’s courage helps fuel a national campaign that led to a change in the law.

A Plaster, a Paper and a Cheese Pickle Sandwich
This is a truly inspired piece of filmmaking that manages to pull together an eclectic set of film traditions into something that is both unique and very entertaining indeed.

The film is currently screening at film festivals and if you do have a chance to see it, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Heading Home
Something uncanny creeps and squelches through director Jane Rose’s unique adaptation of Ramsey Campbell’s classic short story.

Superbly scripted, well acted and shot through with a real sense of menace, Heading Home finishes with a surprise ending that manages to not only be very effective indeed, but also neatly pulls together everything that has gone before.

The Bet
A well paced, intelligent and genuinely disturbing film that trusts its audience to be capable of understanding – or interpreting - what is being shown without feeling the need to spoon-feed every plot point to the audience. As such it’s a film that improves with each viewing.

But what really sets The Bet apart is the atmosphere of grimy desperation that pervades the entire film – not just for the woman, but also for the two men. These are people who really have reached the end of the line and have no way out, as is powerfully underlined with the film’s closing scene.

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
Another film currently working its way around the festival circuit, Now You See Me, Now You Don’t is stunningly shot, strongly acted, and a genuinely moving ghost story to boot.

Vanished Acres
Vanished Acres is a well written, well acted, well directed, atmospheric and thoughtful film about loss and loneliness that contains some genuinely powerful moments. It’s an original and moving film and one that is well worth getting hold of.

The Three Trials
This surrealist reworking of The Story of O doesnt sit comfortably in any genre but very effectively pulls together elements from a variety of influences to create something that both unique and very powerful indeed.

First look at Doctor Parnassus Imaginarium

I mentioned Terry Gilliams upcoming The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus way back in October when a concept drawing for the film turned up online. Now Film Ick (via) have managed to get hold of a couple of shots of the Imaginarium itself from London SE1.

Suddenly 2009 seems a very long way off.

REALITY!

Lewis Black on creationism

Via Pharyngula

Jackson and Raimi to collaborate on The Hobbit

Sci-Fi Wire is reporting that Peter Jackson has settled his differences with New Line Cinema and will executive-produce a two-part adaptation of The Hobbit. The two films will be shot simultaneously with New Line managing their production.

The same site is also reporting that Sam Raimi is expected to direct the film which is expected to start shooting in 2009. The first film should come out in 2010 and the sequel in 2011.

While it is nice to see Peter Jackson back in the Tolkeinesque loop, and while I do think that Sam Raimi could do a lot with this, I cant help wondering whether The Hobbit really needs to be split into two films.

VRP

Black comedy VRP is the first film from French filmmakers François Lyon and David Morelle. And its available online and with subtitles.

Click here to check it out.

The next Bond (school)girl

Empire (via) have confirmed that Gemma Arterton - who was previously seen in the recent St Trinians film - will be playing a Bond girl in Bond 22 (also known as 007, apparently).

Whats not absolutely certain yet is whether Arterton will be the main Bond girl, like Eva Green in Casino Royale, or one of the peripheral lovelies like Caterina Murino and that other one. But what were hearing suggests that shell be in a fairly major role.

The storyline for the film is still under wraps and, not having seen St Trinians yet, I cant comment on Artertons acting ability. But she certainly has the looks.

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