Thursday, August 31, 2006

Haneke Schlemmer

Of all the people...Michael Haneke is going Hollywood.

From the Guardian...

Michael Haneke, director of last year's arthouse smash Caché, has revealed what may be his most controversial film to date: a Hollywood-style remake of his 1997 "anti-thriller" Funny Games. The Austrian film-maker known for his unflinching dissections of violence and middle-class hypocrisy has signed up to direct an English-language version. The film will star Tim Roth and Naomi Watts as a wealthy couple who are trapped and tormented in their Hamptons holiday home by a pair of vicious psychopaths...

Next, I hope, is a remake of Caché starring John Travolta in the Daniel Autueil role; he could be reunited with Kirstie Alley as his wife. But the European title's too artsy - they should call the American version Look Who's Stalking.

Remake, Please

This seems like a dream project for either Michael Bay or Paul Verhoeven.

Rock @ Workforce

Frankie Goes To Hollywood said, when two tribes go to war...

Like most Torontonians, I have had trouble choosing where to go when I need my Gloria Estefan fix. The TV commercial ad war between Toronto's two rival adult contemporary radio stations, CHFI ("Toronto's Lite Favourites") and EZ Rock ("Today's Soft Rock with Less Talk") has been at saturation levels for years now. CHFI's ads are weird enough (now their on-air personalities are doing home invasions), but EZ Rock's commercials are mindblowing. I think some weird CIA splinter group straight out of The Parallax View are the ad agency handling the EZ Rock account. For a while they were like negative political ads, with Leeza Gibbons telling you how lucky you were to have EZ Rock, mentioning you didn't have to worry about their morning team's banter embarassing you, "especially if you're in the car with your kids." Unlike other radio stations, one presumes.

But tonight I saw EZ Rock's new campaign for the first time - and it's weirdness was so amazing I pumped my fist in the air; once my fist came back down, I immediately jammed it into my keyboard to sign up for the EZ Rock @ Workforce. If they draw my name they're going to come by my work to give me my prize. I'll probably get fired on the spot.

Somebody better post that thing on's the Pixar version of American Psycho.

I fear CHFI will have no choice but to respond.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Doesn't Anyone in Hollywood Know How To Play Lemonade?

Snakes on a Plane, the final big movie of the summer, finally came out last weekend and died a surprisingly quiet death, considering its unheard-of name recognition and the ceaseless, web-generated hype. It made 15 million dollars. It narrrowly beat out Talledega Nights for the number one post on the box office chart, pushed through by its late Thursday night special sneak preview numbers. That has to be considered a bit of a shocker. But I saw it coming.

If I was running New Line, I would have rolled it out between April and June; it would have made a fortune! I think that was back when people cared, when people were psyched about the idea. That was back when people would have gone out to see it whether or not all their friends told them it sucked. In fact, I probably would have gone to see it.

Doesn't anyone in Hollywood have a VIC-20? Hasn't anyone ever played Lemonade? If it's going to be hot and sunny next weekend, load up on the lemons and sugar, jack up the selling price and wait for the thirsty people to show up. Don't wait until just before Labour Day.

Let me put it in some perspective. Here are some 2006 releases that had bigger opening weekends than SoaP: Tim Allen's The Shaggy Dog, RV, Barnyard: The Original Party Animals, Little Man and Nanny McPhee. And none of these films had a catchphrase.

Fun fact: Hong Kong crazy man Ronny Yu (The Bride With White Hair) was the original director; he was replaced by David R. Ellis, who directed another film with a ridiculous title: Final Destination 2.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Guilty Until Proven Guilty

A friend of mine said he went to get a coffee this morning and as he passed a news stand, did the first actual spit-take of his life when he saw the sanctimonious front page of today's Toronto Sun.

This morning, the meat puppets on CNN would not let go of the eyewitness accounts of the accused JonBenet Ramsey killer flying business class on Thai Airways, sipping champagne, eating "sumptuous meals" ("sumptuous" airplane food?) and wearing a tie and not wearing handcuffs, etc. I suppose people would have been happy to hear that he was flown over in a box along with the cats and dogs in steerage.

Okay, maybe the guy did it after all and this posting will seem hopelessly naive in a few weeks, once the DNA evidence rolls in pointing to the man's actual guilt.

But look. I saw Force Majeure and some of Brokedown Palace. I think if I was suspected of committing a crime in Thailand, whether or not it was true, especially if the net was closing in, I might confess to something, anything, that would get me immediately hustled back over to North America as opposed to rotting in a Thai prison. Has that not occurred to anyone?

Well at least this story has shut everyone up about not being able to bring hairgel on an airplane, the whole Israel/Hezbollah grudge match, and that NSA wiretapping turning out to be unconstitutional...

Wait a second...has anyone looked in on where Karl Rove spent the 1996 Christmas holidays?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Brian De Palma Joint

Who is the greatest living American filmmaker?

Most people would say Scorsese takes the title, but Casino was more than 10 years ago. Since then he's made the incredibly exhausting Bringing Out The Dead, Gangs of New York, which I actually didn't bother seeing (holding out as I was for the inevitable release of his preferred four-hour cut, although that may never happen at this point and judging by what I've seen from popping in on it on TV, might not be what the world needs now), and The Aviator, which was like a Vanity Fair article come to life but also impersonal. His Dylan documentary was admittedly fine, although I've been told his primary role in the film was to assemble the footage, not to collect it. I saw the trailer for his latest, The Departed, and I fear another DiCaprio-centric disappointment; it doesn't seem to hold a candle to the source material, the zippy Hong Kong policier Infernal Affairs. The trailer even trots out the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter", which is as much of a theme song cliché for Scorsese at this point as "Funeral March of a Marionette" was for Hitchcock.

You want to talk injustice when it comes to the Oscars? Scorsese has been famously robbed for the best director award twice, and I'm not talking about recent years, when he was clearly trying to win it. Meanwhile Brian De Palma, the director who actually discovered Robert De Niro, has never even been nominated.

Granted, in the last fifteen years De Palma has brought us a couple of stinkers (Mission: Impossible and especially Snake Eyes). Mission To Mars isn't ultimately very good either but at least each of these three films has one bravura setpiece.

De Palma has made three of my favourite films. Scarface is so good that not even every episode of 'MTV Cribs' featuring a bone-headed rapper with a framed Tony Montana head-shop poster mounted in his bedroom can take away from it (Scarface is like Star Trek for chavs; their devotion to it brings out something inescapably nerdy in them). It is the fastest three-hour film ever made, and almost the last word on the Reagan eighties. Carlito's Way was a film I saw religiously when it came out. No less an authority than 'Cahiers du Cinema' declared it to be the best film of the nineties. That might be pushing it, but it is wonderful, a Casablanca for this age (we will not speak of the ill-advised prequel he had nothing to do with). And I am a big defender of Femme Fatale, the sleazy, absolutely unhinged Eurotrashcapade that I'm still kicking myself about missing in the theatres. It was the closing night film of the 2002 Toronto film festival, and it must have been great to be in Roy Thomson Hall for the moment De Palma yanked the narrative rug out from under the audience; I'm sure it cleaved the room in twain. This is a director who is in touch with his unconscious.

Anyway, there's a new De Palma film on the way, and though the trailer for The Black Dahlia worried me somewhat (it's being marketed as Untouchable Chinatown Confidential) it does seem to contain the usual De Palma-isms; voyeurism, obsession, murder and dangerous, interchangeable dames, served up with sumptuous visuals and split diopters and blasted through a hall of mirrors. Plus Bulgaria, of all places, stands in for 1940s Los Angeles. That should be worth the price of admission right there. After Femme Fatale, I'm not missing another one in the theatres. I just hope his heart is in it.