Category Archives: Future Releases

Ten of the Best Films From the 2012 San Sebastian Film Festival

by Matthew Turner

As regular readers of Europe’s Best Website may remember, this time last year I attended the San Sebastian Film Festival and had such a great time that I vowed to go back every year until death. Well, so far, so good. For the truly curious, pictures and a tweet-by-tweet account of the entire festival can be found here and here respectively, but let’s keep this blog post mostly about film. Here, then, are some  notes on the ten best films I saw at San Sebastian this year (out of a total of 35). Note that a) I would have included The Imposter on this list if I hadn’t already seen it at Edinburgh and b) I deemed retrospective films ineligible for the top ten, otherwise Franju’s Judex would have been on the list too.

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Monoglot Movie Club: Pining For The Fjords

Part of an occasional series in which Spank The Monkey travels to foreign countries, watches films in unfamiliar languages, and then complains about not understanding them

Like any regular business traveller, I have a checklist that I work through whenever I enter a new hotel. Does the room have tea and coffee making facilities? Is there enough soap in the shower? Are the tissues within arm’s reach of the bed? Once I’ve confirmed all those, it’s time to turn on the TV to get a quick overview of the local culture, in what I’ve only just realised is a smaller-scale and cheaper version of what I regularly do here in Monoglot Movie Club.

On my first night in Oslo, I was already slightly on edge after I discovered that my hotel failed on all three points on the checklist. And then I started watching the TV. Of the 13 channels available in my room, all of them bar one were showing English language programmes with subtitles. By the time I’d found out that the most interesting thing on telly that week was a subtitled episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, I had to wonder: if there’s so little Norwegian language material on television, what must Norway’s cinemas be like?

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If My Calculations Are Correct: The Next Generation

by Ricky Young

If MostlyFilm was a giant robot, and the 1983 BBC2 Sci-Fi season was an unsuspecting Californian coastal town, then the former’s recent march through the latter may have left some wreckage behind.

‘Curse you, M05tlyF1lm!’ the surviving townspeople would shout at the departing metal colossus, fists aloft. ‘These were good ideas you’ve just trashed! Some of them were great ideas! Yes, not every production was a gem, granted, but how will we nourish our imaginations now?’

M05tlyF1lm would stop in his tracks, swivel his giant robot bonce around 180°, and bark out an order in a distressing grate:

###-REMAKE THEM-###

‘But there are surprisingly few straight remakes of the fifteen films on the list, M05tlyF1lm! Alright, Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been remade three times, and some argue that Innerspace could be regarded a technical remake of Fantastic Voyage, but we tried sitting through that recently and there’s no way it’s going on the list. It’s actually nothing like the original’

###-ALSO, SCHTICK OF MARTIN SHORT TOO TOXIC TO TOLERATE ON BIG SCREEN-###

‘Phew, ain’t that the truth. So, that’s the only way to rebuild our town, is it? By taking a discursive and flippant look at how three of our cherished sci-fi landmarks were later treated by other film-makers? Because, I have to say, this metaphor’s stretched enough as it is.’

###-IT IS EITHER YOU OR IAIN LEE-###

‘Really? Christ, better get on with it then.’

Continue reading If My Calculations Are Correct: The Next Generation

Nuking From Orbit

by Thomas Pratchett

'Last one to the top's a rotten xenomorph egg!'

In 1979, Ridley Scott made a film about a bunch of people who find an alien spaceship and discover that the long dormant life inside isn’t so dormant, and in fact wants to kill them. In 2011, Ridley Scott made a film about a bunch of people who find an alien spaceship and… you can see where this is going. By now, everyone knows that Prometheus is a (so Scott claims) tangentially related prequel to Alien, although exactly how related they are is still to be seen. We’ve got the same Giger-esque architecture, milk-filled androids, stark white interiors played against grimy steam-filled corridors and pods filled with slimy things that want to hug our faces. If anyone else had come up with such a scenario and claimed it had no real links to the Alien franchise, 20th Century Fox’s lawyers would have moved faster than you can say ‘minimum safe distance’.

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Preview of 2012 – the Best of the Rest

by Ron Swanson

Over the last couple of days we’ve looked at some of the biggest blockbusters, and potential art-house hits that will go a long way towards defining 2012 as a cinematic year, but it would be silly to underestimate the importance of those films that sit somewhere between those two camps – be they high-profile films made by talented, respected and acclaimed directors, or vanity projects for big stars…

Most of these films will be released in the latter half of 2012, but one movie that will receive plenty of attention on its release in May is the Dictator. The latest project of Sacha Baron Cohen, the Dictator looks set to change his established formula somewhat, mixing in other high-profile actors like John C. Reilly and Curb Your Enthusiasm veteran J.B. Smoove for more of a scripted feel. Regardless of the film’s quality, expect the Dictator to generate plenty of interest.

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Preview of 2012 – Blockbusters

by Ron Swanson

Any preview of 2012, (or at least one that wants to rouse the collective interest of ‘the Internet’, should probably start with Christopher Nolan’s the Dark Knight Rises. The UK’s cinematic summer slate will be more crowded than ever, with studios running away from two sporting events – the European Football Championships and London 2012. We’ll see a lot of movies congested into a squeezed window of opportunity.

The Dark Knight Rises, released on 20 July, is the only major release to have committed to going head-to-head with the Olympics, and given the franchise’s strength, you can understand the confidence (the Dark Knight took three times the money in the UK as Batman Begins, and is far and away the biggest comic book movie of all time, while the trailer for the Dark Knight Rises received more attention than most full releases).

Nolan’s films are hugely popular, and there’s no denying that he has managed to carve out a niche and be perceived as the director of intelligent blockbusters (Inception took £35m in a very competitive market). The Dark Knight Rises sees Nolan include three of his Inception cast in key roles – Tom Hardy plays brutish villain Bane, Joseph Gordon Levitt as a young Gotham beat cop and Marion Cotillard (swoon) as a possible romantic interest for Batman (played once more as the growliest of dangerous, psychopathic vigilantes by Christian Bale). It will, undoubtedly, be one of the event movies of 2012, but not, by any means, the only one…
Continue reading Preview of 2012 – Blockbusters

Preview of 2012 – Awards and Art House

by Ron Swanson

Bérénice Bejo

Just before Christmas, the issue of film release scheduling was brought up as part of the ugly contretemps between New Yorker film reviewer David Denby and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo producer Scott Rudin. While Denby’s claim that he had to break an embargo he’d agreed to because of release schedule madness (in this case, keeping all of the films aimed at a literate, adult audience to be released at the same time) was clutching for a proverbial drinking device, there’s a kernel of truth to the fact that most of the interesting releases aimed at an older audience do tend to be squeezed into a three month (at best) period.
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Assignment: Terror

Gareth Negus creeps from behind the couch to let us know about the best and worst of FrightFest 2011

“But … but – where are the bees?” Britania Nicol in The Wicker Tree

Horror is a broad church, and the FrightFest 2011 programme reflected that.  37 films, mostly British or American in origin but with a solid international selection, meant most people could reasonably expect to find something to upset or repulse them. Continue reading Assignment: Terror

Cinema Week: The Future of Cinemas

In the cinema of the future you’ll be able to laugh as loud as you want

Ron Swanson: Uncle Frank and I were approached to write this piece because we both work in the film exhibition industry, and have an immediate professional insight into the issues that are going to affect in what happens in your local multiplex or arthouse over the next five or ten years. We hope you’ll excuse our anonymity, but some of this could be DYNAMITE.

I guess it’d be good to start by talking about some of the great things that are going on? Box office is up (Avatar, Mamma Mia, the latest Harry Potter and Toy Story 3 are the four biggest releases of all time at the UK box office, and all were released in the past four years). Digital presentation means that customers are getting better quality of projection when they buy a ticket, and you can see a wider range of events at the cinema than ever before, from opera to live sport, 3D ballet to a concert film from young whippersnappers like JLS.

So, Frank, what do cinemas have to complain about? Continue reading Cinema Week: The Future of Cinemas

My Advent on Mars: Thoughts on Disney’s Upcoming John Carter Adaptation

by Gareth Negus

2012 will see the release of a film I’ve been anticipating for over a quarter of a century. Directed by Pixar regular Andrew Stanton, and with a screenplay by Michael Chabon, John Carter of Mars is not the first attempt to film Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian novels – it’s not even the first to make it into production – but it does stand a chance of being the first to fully realise Burroughs’ world the way it looked in my head when I was 12.

Burroughs has always been best known for the creation of Tarzan, partly due to that character’s popularity in other media. However, few of the many films to have featured the Lord of the Jungle are particularly faithful to the tone or detail of the novels. Tarzan’s Africa is a land packed with mysterious lost cities, tribes of great apes previously unknown to science (one group of which, the Mangani, are the creatures who raise Tarzan); it bears about as much resemblance to the real Africa as it does to Wigan.

The Tarzan films generally preferred to stick to a mix of hostile natives, evil hunters and the occasional bit of alligator wrestling. (The version closest to the books was actually the cheaply animated Filmation cartoon series of the 70s.) Hugh Hudson’s 1984 Greystoke also changes things but goes to a different extreme, treating the source novel with the kind of respect usually retained for great literature. Burroughs could certainly spin a yarn, but great literature he wasn’t, nor would he claim to be.

Though I read some of the Tarzan novels as a boy, it was the adventures of John Carter, the Virginian gentleman and adventurer transported to an alien world, that really hooked me. When I was 12, the books were available in editions with colourful, exciting cover paintings by Michael Whelan that accurately reflected the contents – the Whelan cover for the first novel, “Princess of Mars” heads up this piece. That novel, originally called “Under the Moons of Mars” and published in 1912, tells of how the former Civil War soldier turned gold prospector John Carter (presented as a great uncle of Burroughs) is transported to Mars (known to its inhabitants as Barsoom). Hiding in a cave from a group of murderous Apaches who have already killed his prospecting partner, Carter is incapacitated by a strange smoke. He undergoes an out of body experience that transports him to a world he instinctively recognises as Mars, a world that ‘for [him], the fighting man, had always held the power of irresistible enchantment’.

Continue reading My Advent on Mars: Thoughts on Disney’s Upcoming John Carter Adaptation