Venice Film Festival delivers the goods

Well, the Venice Film Festival just came to an end with some seriously huge talent vying for the top prize; the Golden Lion. Some of the films that ran in competition included Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (trailer down the page), Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, Richard Lewis’ film Barney’s Version, actor Vincent Gallo’s Promises Written in Water and Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins.

With Quentin Tarantino as the VFF’s Jury Head, the choice for a winner was surely going to be an excellent one. Prior to Venice he chose Oldboy as the Grand Jury Prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, and it was thoroughly deserved I might add. This year it went to the highly anticipated follow up from Sofia Coppola. Her film Somewhere comes straight off the back of a seriously mixed and uneven Marie Antoinette biopic entitled…Marie Antoinette. Based on the trailer, Somewhere follows a similar path as one of her previous films, Lost In Translation. It stars Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning (Dakota Fanning’s younger sister) as a father and daughter team that have recently been brought together his success as a film actor and celebrity. You can view the trailer below:

                             

Lost in Translation is one of my personal favourites, so it was great to see Sofia’s newest film get great buzz, especially after stumbling a little with Marie Antoinette. I’ll definitely be curious to see Black Swan and 13 Assassins from two directors that really like to push the envelope. I was wondering what you guys thought of the Venice showings, and possibly the upcoming Toronto Film Festival. Was there anything that really caught your eye?

A pilgrimage to consider – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World review

Going into Scott Pilgrim vs. The World I realised just how little I knew about the popular graphic novel that  proceeded it. Usually with this type of comic-book adaptation I’ll scoot through the novel in a couple of days and watch the film afterwards. After seeing the trailer however, it completely dropped off my radar. It wasn’t an awful trailer by any means, but it was another Michael Cera vehicle that would only be eaten up by Arrested Development and Juno fans who love Michael Cera being Michael Cera. Yes, I said Michael Cera three times in a sentence, moving on. Once I found out Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright was making the film however, I saw a spark of hope. Was Scott Pilgrim to be his downfall? or would his adaptation succeed in a violent display of style over substance?

Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim, a 23 year-old ultra-slacker who practically thrives on videogames and rock & roll. He lives in wintery Toronto and shares a flat with his gay friend Wallace (played by Kieran Culkin). Scott’s band, Sex Bob-omb consists of members Kim (Alison Pill) and Stephen (Mark Webber), who are both blown away when Scott tells them that he’s in a relationship with a 17 year-old, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Scott’s world is quickly turned upside-down though when he meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth-Winstead), a pink-haired stranger who is visiting Toronto for a short time. He is completely drawn to her for a time, until he discovers that he must defeat Ramona’s 7 evil exes in order to date her. Tough break kid.

From the very beginning you’re convinced that Scott Pilgrim is going to be the ultimate generation-Y movie. The Universal logo appears in all its pixelated glory like it’s being played through a Nintendo, with a super cool 8-bit theme song to get tone of the movie down before we’ve even seen a second of it. The TV show references, the clothes, the hair, the music and the games, oh the games. Someone also has to give the editor a medal for their work here. Not only does Scott Pilgrim move at breakneck pace, but it’s also surprisingly coherent and touching, given how little time there was for character development. The battles against the 7 exes are fast and original, although it does at times get a little bogged down, and there-in lies the problem with it. The film is fairly lengthy at around 2 hours and threatens to lose steam after the first 3 battles. Those that aren’t “with it” from the start are in for a very long roller-coaster ride, one that will probably make them sick. Others will relish every adrenaline-boosting beatdown that occurs, and boy does it occur often. It follows a similar path to Edgar Wright’s last two movies, in that they start off exceedingly strong, but begin to falter during the far less interesting second-half. It doesn’t prevent the film from having a lasting impression however.

Performances range from merely okay to great. Michael Cera makes for a great Michael Cera, and not much more. A lot was said about his casting in the roll of Pilgrim but he is neither bad nor good. It’s fair to say if you weren’t a fan of him before seeing the movie, then you won’t be after. The rest of the cast are uniformly funny, with each of the 7 exes delving into their roles with reckless abandon, I won’t go into it too much out of spoiler fear, but there are a few cool cameos in place. Kieran Culkin laps up his role as Scott’s gay roommate, and Alison Pill’s deadpan portrayal of Kim is stellar. Mary Elizabeth-Winstead’s Ramona is both completely apathetic and super sweet. I would have liked to see more in regard to her past, but she does a nice job given the slim material.

As a film likely to be loved and despised in equal measure, Scott Pilgrim succeeds at what it sets out to do. What that is…I couldn’t really explain. All you need to know is that it’s fast-paced, funny and fist-pumpingly awesome in every respect. Aside from being a little too long, this slacker-comedy is likely to hit home with the ultimate college couch-potatoes and select hipster crowds. It also totally persuaded me to pick up the novels. IMPRESSIVE COMBO.

3.5/5

Michael Kiossev.

Exciting news for Stephen King fans

For those of you out there who have never read Stephen King’s epic fantasy series ‘The Dark Tower’, I highly recommend that you pick it up.

The saga (and this a very, very loose synopsis) follows the journey of Roland Deschain, the last living member of a knight-esque group (they are supposedly descendants of King Arthur) known as gunslingers. Roland is attempting to make his way to “The Dark Tower” supposedly the center point of time itself. His reasons (and his past) are gradually revealed throughout the saga.

There has long been speculation about the future of the series as a film, or as a possible TV show, now it seems, we may get both.

Akiva Goldsman, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are the latest to take over the reigns of the saga, and whilst they may not seem like the perfect fit for the series, the plan they have unveiled will no doubt leave many a fan salivating.

The trio intend to turn the saga into a three feature films, with two television seasons linking them together. Howard is at this stage set to direct the first film, which will be followed by a television season, which will then lead into the second film, which will again be followed by a television season which will finally lead into the final chapter of the tale.

As far as I am aware, there is no precedent for a production of this scale, so the mere fact that they have managed to convince Universal commit to such a massive project is incredible.

I am very eager to see where this goes, it is a project that I intend to keep a very close watch on.

What do you think of the idea? Who would you like to see step in to the boots of Roland Deschain?