Stoker: The New Film From Park Chan-wook
Oct 2012 02

Never heard of Park Chan-wook? He’s only the South Korean director of OldboyI’m a CyborgJoint Security Area, and Thirst. South Korea has, in the last decade, produced some fine cinematic talents. As I mentioned in this article, South Korean directors are now making films in America, to show the ignorant masses in the West just what they’re missing.

Park Chan-wook: so bloody talented

Oldboy is more or less Park’s signature film. It’s the middle film in his Vengeance trilogy, and the best known. It’s hard to imagine another director who could weave such a complex narrative, operatic, but extreme and graphic acts of violence, and bravura filmmaking techniques into an emotionally-resonant and rich tapestry of a film. And I didn’t even mention the incest. Oldboy is one of those films that you have to see at least once, if you want to call yourself a film buff.

Thirst, released after the Twilight films took their own, angsty, vampire vibe into the mainstream, is about as distinctive a vampire film as you’ll ever see, featuring some strong performances and a genuinely unusual and surprising narrative. I’m a Cyborg is distinctive and surprisingly sweet, depicting a girl who believes herself to be a cyborg, leading to her committal to an insane asylum. Each entry in his varied filmography displays an unusual mix of unusual themes melded together by an engaging story, and it looks like the forthcoming Stoker will be no different.

After the death of her father, India (Mia Wasikowska)’s mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman)’s already frail sanity is further tested by the arrival of her mysterious uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who comes to stay with them. It has been described as a psycho-sexual thriller owing much to the work of Brian De Palma, and, before him, Alfred Hitchcock. Nicole Kidman, despite her mainstream reputation, has an eye for a talented director, having worked with Alejandro Amenabar on The Others, and John Cameron Mitchell on the criminally-underseen Rabbit Hole, and the up-and-coming Mia Wasikowska should prove an able co-star. Matthew Goode, an actor who doesn’t get the body of work his talent deserves is perfect for the sinister but charming uncle Charlie, and with Park-Chan-wook orchestrating the onscreen entertainment, it definitely won’t be boring.

Stoker comes out in March 2013.


The Trailer for the (Second) Hitchcock Biopic is Here!
Oct 2012 15

Alfred Hitchcock, that iconic film giant encased in the plump, unassuming body of an English boy from Leytonstone has already made his mark on the silver screen. Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, North by Northwest, and many others have left indelible marks on the cinematic consciousness and inspired generations of filmmakers.

Such is his status in the film world, and with the notoriously strong link between his personal life and his professional output in mind, it’s perhaps surprising that it’s taken this long for a biopic to be made of the man. This is all about to change, with Anthony Hopkins’ star turn in Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock due to come out in February. As if that weren’t enough, this isn’t the only Hitch biopic coming to screens, oh no. With HBO’s TV movie, The Girl coming out in October, films about Hitchcock appear to be like the proverbial London Buses.

Where they differ, though, is in the fact that The Girl is adapted from Tippy Hedren’s account of making The Birds (and is probably fairly scathing as a result-they didn’t get on), whereas Hitchcock details the making of Psycho, and its success.

Not a bad likeness… even if he does look a bit weird

Both trailers have whetted my appetites for each piece, and I approve of the route of taking an episode from his life, rather than trying to tell the entire story. A mistake that has resulted in many an overlong, undercooked biopic. The trailer for Hitchcock is below, compare it to this trailer for The Girl and feel free to tell us (and the world) what you think in the comments section.


Captain America Sequel Announced… But Who IS The Winter Soldier?
Oct 2012 16

It’s no surprise that, in the aftermath of the gargantuan box office business that The Avengers (Assemble) achieved, Marvel authorised the development of a spree of sequels to the origin movies of its protagonists. Coming to an overpriced multiplex near you within the next few years will be Thor 2: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

THIS (apparently) is the Winter Soldier

When Iron Man came out, waaaaay back in 2008, it successfully launched one of the lesser-known Marvel superheroes, paving the way, eventually, for The Avengers (via Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger). Although Thor was less well received, it still had its share of admirers, following on from that, Captain America got more of a lukewarm reception. Although I enjoyed itIndiana Jones-lite period stylings and found Chris Evans to be a likeable lead, there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement, provided they can give depth to a potentially one-note character. Captain America was never a comic I read as a kid, so my knowledge of his mythology is fairly limited (I imagine I’m not the only one). All this meant that when the sequel to Captain America was announced, like most people, I just shrugged and carried on with my life.

It’s pretty subtle, but I’m getting the feeling that they don’t like each other

But then IGN posted a short video describing the story of the titular Winter Soldier for comic neophytes like me, and I started to get more excited aout the film. With the new Thor film having an ominous title, Shane Black‘s involvement with Iron Man 3, and now this potentially interesting follow up to come out, I’m genuinely interested in how Marvel is going to achieve all this. A comic book studio effectively exploring their mythology in mainstream cinema is unheard of, and even if some will regard it as an abomination, I find it quite interesting. The link to the IGN video is below, check it out and leave us a comment.


First Iron Man 3 Trailer Hits
Oct 2012 23

After the muted reception to Iron Man 2, and the largely enthusiastic reaction to The Avengers, Marvel have begun pushing ahead with the further expansion of their cinematic universe by releasing the trailer for Iron Man 3.

Even though we’re not exactly hurting for superhero content here at RBT, we thought we’d post this, because it looks fairly promising. One of the interesting questions that comes up every time a new Marvel film is mooted, is how far can they push this? How much can they get people to buy in to their less mainstream, less marketable, lesser-known characters? Will they reach a point where the public have had enough? 

Trends come and go, and history would seem to indicate that eventually we’ll all get tired of superhero films, and they’ll go back to only being appreciated by socially-challenged nerds who live in their parents’ basement. But for the moment, there seems no end in sight for their time in the box office sun.

I, for one, thought saturation point had been reached way before The Avengers, but then it came out, and not only was it good, but it was phenomenally successful in a financially, bank-balancey sort of way. Marvel are on a roll right now, and they seem to be doing it their own way, without even compromising their (sizeable) geek factor.

Even dudes in super-powered suits can see the benefits of a good couch

With all that in mind, it’s true, though, that Iron Man 2 was not as good as Iron Man. Partially hampered by having to give over substantial amounts of its running time to Avengers setup, it had an under-utilised villain, a disjointed plot, and a forced air to it. It was fun in places, but had an inescapably disappointing conclusion.

However, before you let that you off, don’t forget that the films’ ace-in-the-hole, Robert Downey Jr. is still on board for this one. Shane Black, a director and writer who, in the criminally under-seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, showed that he could provide the cinematic ammo for R.D. Jr to hit the comedy targets is on megaphone duties. There’s also the impression of the character, and Marvel in general, getting a second wind. Now that the 20-ton elephant in the room that was The Avengers is out of the way, they can get back to making films that have their own satisfying and self-contained storylines. This is something that the forthcoming Thor and Captain America sequels will also hopefully benefit from. So, check out the Iron Man 3 trailer underneath; enjoy, scrutinise and critique, and feel free to let your feelings known in the comments below.

Iron Man 3 is currently scheduled for release in May 2013


Newsflash: Is Matthew Vaughn in Line to Direct Star Wars Episode VII?
Nov 2012 05

So, with RBT’s upcoming pieces for and against the Disney takeover of Lucasfilm coming soon, we had to report the latest, most ‘out there’ gossip to come of it so far. Collider are reporting that Matthew Vaughn (he of Layer Cake and X-Men: First Class directing fame) is in line to direct the first major motion picture out of the blocks. In lieu of our pieces on why this takeover is a good/bad idea, it has to be said that, first of all, this is absolutely batsh*t mental. Collider cite the fact that he has dropped out of the running to direct X-Men: Days of Future Past (The X-Men: First Class sequel) as reasoning for this, but other than that are very up front about it being only a rumour.

Since this is still early days and all, any decisions like this are probably a long way off, but it would be a very interesting choice. Although his background in gangster movies would seem to indicate he operates better in the real world, X-Men: First Class showed that he could direct large-scale action and believably render characters with powers. A better comparison from his filmography would be Stardust, his most underrated and under-seen effort to date. This film captures what Star Wars often reached in its early incarnations, and failed to ever reach in the prequel trilogy: it had high adventure, action, comedy, a great love story, and, perhaps most importantly: a genuinely threatening antagonist. If he were able to recreate the feel of Stardust while directing this new film in the Star Wars universe, why, I’d be first in line.



Les Miserables Movie UK Trailer
Nov 2012 08

So far, we RBT-heads haven’t really covered Tom Hooper‘s follow up to his scientifically-engineered follow up to The King’s Speech; in fact, I don’t even think we’ve mentioned his forthcoming effort, Les Miserables at all. Maybe we don’t like musicals? I certainly don’t (with some notable exceptions), could it be that we don’t like period pieces (lies!), or it must be that, despite a gilded, respected cast, we just can’t get excited about it (bingo).

Having said all that, getting Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Eddie Redmayne in the same film is a heck of an achievement. At a rough guess, I make that to be about half of Hollywood. It’s not even that they got them all in the same film, they got them in the same film, and got them singingLes Miserables, that runaway Broadway smash hasn’t been adapted for the screen before, and if Hooper can bring his skill for sumptuous production design married to a well-paced and elegant narrative, we could be looking at a (potentially nauseating) Oscar contender.

Not excited, but likely to get stuck taking the family or a significant other to it in January? Maybe you can satisfy yourself with the fact that it depicts a bloody revolution where the bourgeoisie were overthrown, and while it probably won’t be as exciting as The Dark Knight Rises, it might be more coherent.


The World War Z Trailer is Here!
Nov 2012 09

… So after multiple reshoots, reports of internal wrangling, and a rumoured change to the ending, World War Z is finally (nearly), released. Its teaser poster dropped on the 6th November, although it would be better described as a teaser logo, and now we have the trailer.

For those who don’t know, World War Z is an upcoming movie starring Brad Pitt, directed by Marc Forster, depicting (you guessed it) a zombie apocalypse. Based on a novel of the same name by Max Brooks (son of Mel), the book took the form of an ‘Oral History of the Zombie Apocalypse’.

Developing a book that is essentially a set of first-hand accounts into a narrative movie is a hell of a challenge, and perhaps has resulted in being too challenging. Rumours of Brad Pitt not being on speaking terms with Marc Forster have emerged, as well as copious on-set rewrites of the script, and Studio intervention leading to a massive change to the ending. It begs the question: are we reaching saturation point on zombies? During the making of the movie, several other properties have emerged, into an already crowded zombie pop-culture horde.

I personally like zombie movies, and still have a relentless, zombie-esque appetite for the walking dead, so am somehow still looking forward to this. The controversy-tinged production though, should raise warning signs for the fans. The trailer follows, feel free to leave a comment below.


A Young Doctor’s Notebook – Radcliffe and Draper in a Bath
Nov 2012 13

Watch out ladies! That’s right, Daniel Radcliffe’s latest attempt to prove that there is life after Harry Potter involves taking off his clothes! But that’s not all, oh no, he’s also shown in the bath. That’s right, the camera will show him soaping himself down. But wait! That’s not all. Calm yourselves girls, because you see, Jon Hamm (aka Don Draper off of Mad Men) actually shares a bath with him!

I know, right?

Sky Arts‘ critically-lauded Playhouse Presents series returns with A Young Doctor’s Notebook, a comedy miniseries based on the memoirs of a Russian Revolution-era doctor. Jon Hamm plays the older version Daniel Radcliffe’s character. The dual perspectives of the younger man and the older man on the events of the story give it a lightness of tone that it is hoped will juxtapose with the harsh realities of life at that time in a small Russian village.

Daniel Radcliffe seems to have decided that the best way to make everyone forget that he was one Harry Potter is for him to take all his clothes off (just like in Equus, or to play characters who look younger than they are (The Woman in Black). Playing the same character as Jon Hamm is an intriguing prospect, and with seemingly high production design, and the Sky Arts pedigree, there seems to be plenty of reasons to be optimistic about this one. Check out the trailer below, and let us know what you think.

A Young Doctor’s Notebook airs in the UK on Sky Arts in December 2012.


New Trailer Roundup
Dec 2012 13

Whoa! This has been a big week in movie trailers. The new Man of Steel trailer is up, The Lone Ranger got its first full trailer, and the Tom Cruise-starring Oblivion set its first trailer on an unsuspecting public. In addition to this, a promising-looking upcoming Brit-crime film Welcome to the Punch brought out its own action heavy trailer, in order to remind us that us Brits don’t only make worthy period dramas. But this is all beaten by my personal favourite, Pacific Rim.

Tom Cruise plays a droid repairman (one of the last few on Earth) in Oblivion. A post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi directed by Joseph Kosinski, the guy who made… er… Tron: Legacy. Still, the early footage looks inviting, with strong production design, and as an avowed Tom Cruise fan, I still think the guy can make a comeback. Even if there’s a credibility gap when it comes to imagining him as a droid repairman.

Despite Zach Snyder’s reputation as a brash, showy, slo-mo merchant, the early footage for Man of Steel has retained a restrained, thoughtful, obtuse quality. Could it the steady hand of exec producer Christopher Nolan on the tiller? His brother Jonathan and David Goyer shaping the story? A young up-and-comer in Henry Cavill in the starring role? Or could it be that Zach Snyder finally grew up? We’ll know when we see it in 2014.

The Lone Ranger shouldn’t work. On paper, I mean. A remake of a 1930s radio serial and 1950s TV show? Get of out of town! Still, the Jerry Bruckheimer factor turned Pirates of the Caribbean from a theme park ride to a cinematic behemoth, Armie Hammer has the talent to carry a franchise, and it has kooky Johnny Depp… er, being kooky Johnny Depp, by the looks of things. It has an interesting visual style, as well it might, with Gore Verbinski on board. As maligned as the Pirates sequels are, it’s undeniable that Gore Verbinski has an interesting visual style, and hopefully he can marry it to the kind of storytelling he displayed in the first Pirates movie, or the still criminally under-seen Rango.

As an initially unlikely action star, James McAvoy showed some action chops in Wanted and showed he likes a genre pic with X-Men: First Class. Here, he plays an unhinged detective given one last chance at redemption in this anticipated Brit-thriller gathering plenty of buzz. Oh yeah, and it also stars Mark Strong. If that doesn’t excite you, I feel sorry for you.

And finally, we have Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim. Del Toro got sick of the pace of making The Hobbit, and went and make this, and boy, does it look exciting. We have monsters from the sea, giant robots, future Earth, Idris Elba, and…. GUILLERMO DEL TORO. In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m a little bit excited.

Excited by these films? Maybe you hate them? Either way, feel free to tell us why in the comments.


Not Fade Away: David Chase’s Sopranos Follow-Up is Almost Here!
Jan 2013 22

How do you follow up one of the defining television series over the past 20 years? Fortunately for us lesser beings, it’s not a dilemma we’ll ever have to face. David Chase, on the other hand, does. Five years after the televisual phenomenon that was The Sopranos, Chase is about to release his latest opus: Not Fade Away.


His hair prevented intimacy

Set in the 1960s, and titled after a Rolling Stones song, it already sounds painfully hip. It would be understandable if well-trodden path of photogenic young cast, themes of coming of age, music and love all alongside added trendiness, make you want to barf in your rucksack.

But, with this being David Chase, the man who brought us the conflicted, flawed, but scarily relatable Tony Soprano and his brood, you’d like to think you can trust him to bring us some memorable characters. Partly autobiographical, I am personally hoping it can echo Dazed and Confused, and bring us believable teens and that same sense of nostalgia for a time I never lived that Dazed and American Graffiti engendered.

The Sopranos was more than a TV series about gangsters, using a violent criminal subculture as a prism through which to view society was a masterstroke. Can Chase do it again?


See that? That’s ANGST right there

Sadly, early buzz coming out of the film festivals has been mixed, but if one of the GODS OF TELEVISION can’t benefit from the doubt, then I don’t know who can. Check out the trailer below.

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