October 10, 2012 |
TORONTO - Martin McDonagh is no stranger to movie violence. The British playwright-filmmaker's debut feature, 2008's hit-man tale "In Bruges," had no shortage of blood, and McDonagh's new movie, Friday's R-rated crime drama "Seven Psychopaths," is hardly a musical comedy. The writer-director won't have to wait for critics and audiences to comment on the surging body count - "Seven Psychopaths" is as much a commentary on screen violence as a story overflowing with it. At various points throughout the film, McDonagh points out the real-life consequences of aggression and stages some scenes with so much over-the-top mayhem that it's clear he's poking fun at how movies typically, and casually, glorify bloodshed.
September 22, 2012 |
BEIJING - Every movie project involves a certain amount of negotiation, but finding middle ground proved no easy matter when writer-director Daniel Hsia tried to film "Shanghai Calling" in China. To secure permission to make his story about a Chinese American lawyer relocated to the country's largest city, Hsia exchanged numerous screenplay drafts with China's censors. The government's film production arm, China Film, which co-produced the movie, wanted to make sure that Shanghai was depicted as an efficient modern metropolis, that locals were shown as "kind and hospitable," that the visiting lawyer comes to appreciate the country by the film's conclusion and that a plot about piracy would be rewritten into more of a business misunderstanding, Hsia said.
September 18, 2012 |
Looking to capture young, tech-savvy Asian Americans, a Long Beach advertising agency turned East for inspiration. The firm, InterTrend Communications, came up with a Web series that blended elements of South Korean soap operas with a novel Japanese storytelling device that employed online social networks. The series, sponsored by AT&T Inc., quickly notched nearly 10 million views on YouTube and generated 4,700 suggestions from fans about how the story should unfold. The unusual interactive nature of the Web series, called "Away We Happened," could provide a template for advertising in the future.
September 9, 2012 |
TORONTO -- Alan Arkin knew he wanted to act by his 5th birthday. He dragged his mother to the Crossroads of the World on Sunset Boulevard when he was 11 so he could sign up for a specious organization called The Screen Children's Guild. Nothing came of that, but the 78-year-old actor has been making a pretty good living for nearly half a century. Arkin has seen a thing or two, and he has a few thoughts about why movies connect with audiences. Sitting in the back row of the cavernous Roy Thomson Hall Theatre for the Toronto Film Festival's gala screening of Ben Affleck's politically tinged thriller "Argo," Arkin watched and listened while the audience cheered the story.
August 23, 2012 |
At any other time, the storyline of a film like "R2B: Return to Base" - a reckless young fighter pilot (Korean superstar Rain) is taken down a few pegs by a more experienced and disciplined rival (Yu Jun-sang) and learns the value of teamwork - would likely earn references to "Top Gun. " With the film by chance seeing release so closely after the recent death of "Top Gun" director Tony Scott, one almost feels sorry for "R2B" director Kim Dong-won for how inescapable the comparisons will be. They are not unfounded, of course, as Kim's film looks to get premium mileage from the thrill of a slo-mo formation walk across a tarmac or the whooshing rush of the horizon line slipping by the cockpit.
August 22, 2012 |
Enigmatic anecdote is the currency of Martin Crimp's "The City," having its U.S. premiere at Son of Semele Theater in a production directed by artistic director Matthew McCray. The characters don't so much engage in dialogue as indulge in a cryptic form of storytelling, in which puzzling incidents are set against a background of warfare, brutality and personal desolation. A foreboding air of menace invokes the work of Harold Pinter, though Crimp, a playwright better known in the States for his springy translations of French dramatic classics, is more abstract and diffuse.
August 16, 2012
A smash hit on its recent release in China, "Painted Skin: The Resurrection" offers an over-the-top mix of fantasy, adventure and romance that plays as a fussy, convoluted mess. In an ancient world in which spirit demons roam the earth, the spirit Xiaowei (Xun Zhou), searching for a chance to become more human, finds herself matching wits with Princess Jing (Wei Zhao), who is on the run from threats against her, as the two both seek love on their own terms for their own ends. The film, a sequel to 2008's "Painted Skin," is directed by Wuershan, who also made the recent "The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman.
August 10, 2012 |
If there is a popular conception of what an online series is, it probably involves nonexistent budgets, no-name actors and modest ambitions. But increasingly, online originals are getting bigger, deeper and more complex in their scope and storytelling. And Hollywood's A-list is starting to get in on the action. The new "H+ the Digital Series," from producer Bryan Singer andWarner Bros. Digital Distribution, is a daring example of this new approach. "H+," which premiered this week on YouTube, is set in a not-too-distant future when much of humanity has been implanted with a device that keeps brains tethered to the Internet 24/7.
August 1, 2012 |
No writer wants to be called “cozy,” right? Satirical, mordant, horrifying, bold, funny - anything but that word. Yet coziness is what Maeve Binchy delivered in 16 novels and numerous story collections before her death this week at the age of 72 . The author's death at a Dublin hospital was announced Monday in the Irish media. Fans like Nicole Cliffe, at The Hairpin , mourned the death of Binchy, calling her the creator of “funny, sweet, intermittently tragic and extremely enjoyable novels” that reached out to readers around the world and managed to sell more than 40 million copies.
July 19, 2012 |
The film "30 Beats," the debut as writer-director for long-time producer, financier and distributor Alexis Lloyd, is an uneven and unengaging riff on "La Ronde"-style handoff storytelling, following a series of New Yorkers through various sexual encounters during a sweltering summer heat wave. A young woman asks a man to assist her in losing her virginity, leading him to a psychic who has an encounter with a bike messenger, and on and on. Despite the presence of such actors as Lee Pace, Jennifer Tilly, Justin Kirk, Thomas Sadoski and Paz de la Huerta, there is no character insight allowed by the bumper-car storytelling.