Who Watches the Watchmen?

We'll soon find out who'll be watching, though right now guesses are pretty easy to make. This is a two-quadrant flick, if that, but that appeal for young males 18-35 is huge and should be more than sufficient to make this another cultural phenomenon like Zack Snyder's previous film, "300." (Quadrants are broken up into four groups: the young and old males, and the young and old females, with 35 as the line of demarcation.) The graphic novel, though it's been around for a few decades and was even on the TIME 100 Greatest English-Language Novels of the Past Century as the sole representative of comicdom, has never been fully visible to women who might be turned off by the intensely explored themes innate to superheroes in comics and by all of the explicit sex and violence brimming out of the corners of this very long read, almost all of which has been translated for the screen, including the length. I can imagine a few women who'll enjoy this movie, though, and a lot of them were likely found in midnight showing lines to "The Dark Knight." Still, I don't see this becoming a homerun like TDK, which sported many reasons for women to hop onto the bandwagon. Anne Thompson was confounded by the flick, but she also confesses to having had only a fleeting acquaintance with the source material, which probably isn't true for any male in the target age group.

Her words: "The gorgeous R-rated movie is ultra-violent. I can take neck-crunching body-bashing blood-spattering action, but this was even tough for me to sit through. For the most part, women will not go for Watchmen."

Ultimately, I see this film becoming practically impervious to any bad review that might come its way, as "300" already showed a movie could be capable of (though it was hardly mixed, most critics seemed to enjoy the look and choreography). Might go on to score some technical nominations next year at the Oscars, even, with those really spiffy costumes and sets and very appropriate cinematography. Acting, maybe not, and I don't think many would fret if this gets passed over in the Directing category like I know a few did over Chris Nolan's snub. I think the big victory in the end will have to be whether or not guys can get their dates or their girlfriends to make the jump and see this. Or would you guys prefer to only see this with your buds two seats over, no women?

Early birds get the word: Kirk Honeycutt at The Hollywood Reporter; Justin Chang at Variety; Ian Nathan at Empire Magazine.

IMAGE from: Screenrant


"Wolf Man" Redo Concept Art

Monster movies have sort of become the all-time butt of jokes in the cineplexes because so many are essentially just masses of camp and bad effects covered in buckets of blood. But they've stuck around - albeit in more accessible and modern forms like the slashers with Jason and Freddy living out the "Creature from the Black Lagoon"'s dreams of butchering the helpless semi-nude woman, and sci-fi stuff like "Alien" and the "Terminator" which is essentially a reiteration of the themes first introduced in "Frankenstein" - because they're fun to return to so we can smirk at their laffable visual effects and makeup, but also because these films very visually capture the norms of society at a given time. They refashion our deepest fears and anxieties and condense them into often times hideous physical manifestations. Like the fears we harbor over our own powers to create which is at the heart of both Frankenstein and Terminator. Or our feral, violent and primitive (not to mention sexually-driven) tendencies, which commands the Wolf Man who sits lodged between the human and animal divisions, between instinct and intellect, restraint and absolute frenzy.

As much as I am still slightly bummed that Mark Romanek dropped out of the project, I am also just as excited about how "The Wolf Man" remake at Universal is panning out with Joe Johnson at the helm, and these new concept art shots by Academy Award-winning special effects makeup artist Rick Baker certainly help. I, for one, am glad that they're doing quite a bit with practical effects and makeup instead of jumping straight to digital stuff because that can be really distracting (see "Van Helsing" for an example of how distracting) and because they tend to render the whole look really bland. But there's great detail here, with lead Benicio Del Toro's likeness actually being articulated well, and a good amount of attention paid to how the transformation will look and play out. Should be really terrifying stuff. As talented as she is anyways, supporting damsel Emily Blunt need not worry about having to feign shock and horror. Rick Baker has got you covered. Should re-enliven an entire archive's worth of monster-female chase sequences in wooded areas.

And it might take a couple decades before we can come back to this flick and snicker over the visuals, they look so good.

IMAGE from: Slashfilm, and Z Brush Central
SCOOPED first by: Shock


State of the Race, Feb '09 Edition


This is the first post here at Cine-O-Rama, where I aim to discuss not just the movies in all their stages of development, but especially those films which are considered in contention at the biggest awards ceremony in the business: the Oscars. We'll traverse the landscape of the festival circuits, the critic circles and the box office to assess each of the films, their importance and their innovations; and recall films from the past which have stood the test of time.

Ripped straight from my personal blog, with some added flourishes:

Taking a cue from Kris Tapley at In Contention, I'm very quickly going to run through who I believe are the current major forces in the upcoming Oscar race in '10. Quite a long ways to go before that point, but then isn't it the best feeling when you can say you called it ten months in advance? Besides, I've always found it interesting to see how films evolve over time and sustain changes in their consumption, and maybe we'll be able to see some surprises unfold right before our eyes as the year passes.

No pictures are standing out so deeply quite yet, which makes the whole ordeal even more sensitive and interesting since they're all on relatively equal footing, but I have my money on "Amelia" as a definite Actress contender for Hillary Swank - would be her third nom, with a win being three for three - which could play out either like "Boys Don't Cry" (only nommed for Actress) or "Million Dollar Baby" (which went all the way to Best Picture). If it hits its mark, she'll likely be up against her former director in the Best Picture category, Clint Eastwood from "Million Dollar", who will complete his Untitled Nelson Mandela project with Morgan Freeman later this year, who will likely go all the way to the Actor category. Eastwood is a darling with Oscar (though 2008 wasn't his year, apparently, since both "Changeling" and "Gran Torino" managed to get neglected except for Angelina Jolie's nom for the former) and this project has some deep history in it. I'm sure the old farts in the Academy will recall the global awareness of apartheid and Mandela's struggle against it in a way that they couldn't remember the Wineville Chicken Murders that were at the center of "Changeling."

Of course, with Eastwood back in top form with an ambitious and heavy project that'll really let him stretch his legs out, he's got to have the competition, and I think this may play out similarly to the year "The Departed" won, with Martin Scorsese this year giving us "Shutter Island," which sounds like a swashbuckler but is in fact a CIA flick with his old pal and very frequent collab Leonardo Dicaprio in the starring role. Got a taste of the FBI with "Departed" and decided to go one step further, I suppose. The premise sounds a bit too actiony and espionagy (are they words? on the internet, they are) not meditative or dramatic enough, but we'll see. In a game of Kevin Bacon's six degrees of separation, I think Paul Haggis, who was Eastwood's scripter for "Million Dollar Baby," may see his rival from a couple years ago rise again, with Ang Lee's next follow-up to "Brokeback Mountain" after "Lust, Caution" ("Brokeback" should've won Picture, I keep telling people) being "Taking Woodstock." A period flick about the undying and seminal concert, it might be appealing in a way that "Milk" and "Frost/Nixon" were last year if only because they hearken back to a very strangely American past and unearth some of the nuances of the times that we all have forgotten about. The Academy might be itching to give some love to Ang Lee in the Picture category after they relegated him to just Best Director the year "Crash" crashed the party and stole Picture. Yes, I'm bitter.

As a fan of "Chicago," I'd personally love to see Rob Marshall get back to the big stage with "Nine", which is an adaptation of the stage adaptation of Federico Fellini's "8 1/2," a marvelous black and white film. Marshall failed to make it there with "Memoirs of a Geisha" (which wasn't a bad film, just messy and politically incorrect with the casting), so he's probably focused on Big O with this one. Got an incredible cast, too, with recent winner Daniel Day-Lewis, and a good sliver of the actresses that were at the Oscars this year as the addressees to the noms - Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Marion Cotillard, not to mention other winners and noms Judi Dench, Kate Hudson and Penelope Cruz (who finally got her dues last weekend). Lots of gorgeous women, Day-Lewis is a lucky bastard. I could easily see this be a huge hit with the supporting categories, but perhaps Day-Lewis will earn for himself yet another nomination and solidify his position near the top of the acting food chain.

But the real one to beat, I think, will be Peter Jackson's new film, the adaptation of "The Lovely Bones." Early word is already brewing, and the coffee that's being stirred smells good and bold. They at the studio and on the ground resist using the "O" word, of course, but media monkeys are throwing it around for them, including even my old professor Anne Thompson at Variety. Snippets, set pictures, all that have been decidedly infrequent and there's a lot of hush hushing from the actors in the film, so you know they know they've got something golden in their hands that they have to guard it from our prying eyes and hungry hands. Could be Jackson's grand return to family drama, and the natural progression from his previous "Heavenly Creatures", which is one of his absolute best works. He's new Hollywood royalty, new money to Eastwood's very very old money, and could very easily have the movie-to-beat for the entirety of the year.

Of course there are other films to watch, but as it stands, these are the ones I'd bet my money on. Though if you were a betting man (I'm not), you'd probably figure that now wouldn't be the time to bet, as the campaign has but barely started. Wait for some studio honchos to get big-headed or enter a momentary state of weakness and declare an early victory before putting up your dukes.

Others to watch for in all categories: Michael Mann's "Public Enemies," with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale; Kevin MacDonald's "State of Play"; Jason Reitman (of "Juno") directing "Up in the Air" with George Clooney and Vera Farmiga; Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant"; Julie Taymor's (of "Across the Universe") "The Tempest" with a sex-reversal and Helen Mirren now in the lead role; Michelle Pfeiffer's period vehicle "Cheri" (does that sound odd to you?); the Alejando Gonzales Inarritu ("Babel") film "Biutiful" with Javier Bardem; Paul Greengrass of "United 93" with "Green Zone" and Matt Damon; James Cameron's long time-coming alien flick "Avatar"; and the Sundance hit "An Education" which may pull itself up to the ranks in some of the acting categories.

Keep those eyes... open (spoken like Patrick Bateman).

IMAGE taken from The NY Post