Over at the Writers Guild of America site, Denis Faye talks about Waiting For Superman and the challenges of writing a script for a nonfiction film with director Davis Guggenheim and his co-writer, Billy Kimball. Interesting stuff: a spotlight shined on an area not often illuminated.
“Ladies and gentlemen, 53-year-old birthday boy and Fulbright scholar Dolph Lundgren on drums!”
A super-villain awakens to the possibility of the virtues of decency and integrity in Megamind, a slightly manic but dependably enjoyable animated effort that assays the symbiotic nature of good and wickedness. Voluminous joke output and a winning vocal performance by Will Ferrell jointly power this peppy entry, which seems poised somewhere between familiarity and freshness, given its strong narrative similarity to this summer’s Despicable Me. For the full, original review, from Screen International, click here. (Paramount, PG, 95 minutes)
A week is forever in politics, they say, but election day 2008 really seems like a long time ago.
Monsters multi-hyphenate Gareth Edwards — the swoon-inducing crush of at least two different Los Angeles publicists — has budding Russian auteur Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) as his protective wingman for his next project, Todd Gilchrist notes, over at the Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy blog. It’s a science-fiction film that’s being billed as “an epic human story, set in a futuristic world without humanity.” And yes, that’s a direct quote.
Just glimpsed the Rotten Tomatoes pull quote for Armond White’s review of Jackass 3-D, in which he notes that Steve-O’s port-a-john routine “utilizes distance and trajectory in a way that recalls the great waterslide joke in Norbit (and should help rehabilitate that wonderful film’s unfair reputation).”
Goddamn, that guy just does not quit. His stunt façade is impenetrable. I didn’t click through to read the whole thing, by the way. That’s the only power I have.
See me guest on Geek Week’s First Dollar Gross on Justin.TV
I returned to First Dollar Gross this week, sitting in with Damon Houx, Luke Y. Thompson and E! Online’s Peter Paras Monday afternoon to discuss the latest entry in the Saw franchise, Saw 3D, as well as the fall film season. And, oddly enough, Max von Sydow in Flash Gordon, 3-D conversions in general, and the Hellraiser series. Hey, that’s what happens when you talk… things come up.
Its R rating description is hilarious (“For language and a sexual gesture”), and its dialogue and performances don’t always connect, but low-budget, sci-fi-inflected thriller Altitude is a better-than-it-needs-to-be and at times even borderline-artful entry in the direct-to-DVD sweepstakes — a movie that makes smart use of its limited means, and works, in a sort of old-school Twilight Zone fashion, to wring maximum effect out of tried and true storytelling devices rather than merely goosing CGI special effects work.
The plot centers on a group of teens on a weekend getaway (they’re headed to a Coldplay concert) aboard a small plane, and the sudden turn for the worse that sparks much bickering, consternation and screaming. Jessica Lowndes stars as rookie pilot Sara — she of the mother whose life was tragically cut short by a small-engine airplane crash — and along for the trip are her socially awkward boyfriend Bruce (Landon Liboiron), her cousin Cal (Ryan Donowho), her friend Mel (Friday the 13th‘s Julianna Guill) and Mel’s insufferably jerky boyfriend Sal (As the World Turns‘ Jake Weary, showcasing his soap opera demonstrativeness). After take-off, unexplained mechanical malfunctions send the aircraft climbing out of control, and into the heart of a strange, dark storm. Unable to land, but running out of fuel, the group tries to troubleshoot their problem and figure out what’s going on, but eventually come to realize they’re locked in battle with a sort of supernatural (and perhaps fated) force.
Altitude‘s dialogue, in its efforts to evoke panicked realism, sometimes comes off as merely ridiculous (“This doesn’t make any sense — the systems aren’t supposed to fail like this!”), and a nod to Sartre doesn’t quite ring true coming from Sara’s mouth. Still, the basic third act plot twists are interesting and for the most part well rendered, which mitigates some of the movie’s uneven acting. It certainly helps, too, that director Kaare Andrews — who actually has a background in comic book artwork and animation, in addition to some short films — tells the story with an emphasis on, well, the story. There’s green-screen work galore, given the nature of the confined setting, but his camerawork, editing and even the film’s other fairly modest special effects feed a spiraling sense of uncertainty and doom. He also deftly interweaves some integral flashback material, related to Sara’s mother’s flight. Altitude isn’t a must-see smash, but what it accomplishes certainly bodes well for its behind-the-scenes creative team.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case in turn stored in a cardboard slipcover, Altitude comes to DVD presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, divided into a dozen chapters, with an English language Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound audio mix, and optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles. It’s very heartening, too, that the DVD features such a robust slate of bonus material, anchored by 50 minutes’ worth of behind-the-scenes footage that includes interviews with all the cast and crew, and charts the movie from inception (producer Ian Birkett was a film school classmate of Andrews, and his older brother Paul worked up the script) through pre-production work, shooting up in Canada, and post-production. There’s also a separate 10-minute featurette on the film’s green-screen special effects work (one gets to fully appreciate the imaginative nature of a ceiling-mounted spinning camera), a trailer, and a scrollable “concepts gallery.” To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. B- (Movie) B+ (Disc)