Dead Rising: Becoming a Better Person Through Disembowelment

This is about my fourth attempt at writing something about Dead Rising. You would have been better served if I chronicled my experience in instalments, because my attitudes changed dramatically over the days … but I was too busy playing it.

Overcoming addiction is a good thing. For the last 7 days, I was consumed by Dead Rising. Now it’s out of my system and I can go on living, and writing. I can breathe a little easier knowing that the zombie threat is quashed.

Little Miss Sunshine

The title “Little Miss Sunshine” appearing across the face of the suicidally depressed Steve Carell is proof that irony lives.
Another installment in the great tradition of American road movies, Little Miss Sunshine is one of those “melanchomedies”* that uplifts as it saddens.

Super Size Me

Super Size Me was a huge sensation upon its release a couple of years back, yet I never saw it. The movie Fast Food Nation was made on the strength of its success, ironic for the fact that Supersize Me itself was at least partially inspired by the Fast Food Nation book.

This is how you make a film about this topic: you make it interesting. It doesn’t have to necessarily be entertaining – although Super Size Me most definitely is that – but it certainly should not be dull and leaden. Even if you claim that that is “real”, it is not real in the sense of cinema, which demands something.

I thought that it was strange that Channel Ten showed this program after Australian Idol, which is sponsored by McDonald’s. In response to Fast Food Nation, McDonald’s has released a Make Up Your Own Mind ad campaign.
Those wiley McDonald’s fiends have chosen to exercise that campaign during this movie. One of the wisest things that Richard Linklater said when I saw him on Thursday was that McDonald’s would have been wisest not to have brought out a retaliatory campaign at all (although they claim it’s just coincidental).

They needn’t have worried, of course: Super Size Me had the natural appeal that would allow people to actively seek it out. McDonald’s is going to positively pump money into Fast Food Nation, though, and we all know that money could be spent on something far more effective, like bringing the 30 cent cones back to 30 cents.

Popcorn Taxi: Fast Food Nation

Popcorn Taxi is an organisation in Australia that presents advance screenings of films, frequently with the films’ directors on hand afterwards to answer questions and give interviews.

Popcorn Taxi programmes that I have attended include Mysterious Skin (painful but phenomenal), Thank You For Smoking (hilarious and, coupled with Jason Reitman’s short films, an all around excellent evening) and Monster House (the interview providing genuine insight into the film that had me appreciating it ever more).

Generally, you get the impression that the people present have enjoyed the film they’ve seen. Fast Food Nation did not supply me with that feeling. I got the impression that quite a few people were disgruntled.

I didn’t think it was that hot, either.

CrabStorm: A Work in Progress

This post marks the launch of “ideas”, which covers great creations that may never come to fruition.

My initial notes began:

Best idea ever for a horror movie or video game: something involving crabs. Possibly in a science lab: research ship.

I’ve since upgraded the idea to “action/thriller”, generally because I don’t like horror. I then came up with the following fragments of plot:

A scientist is drinking coffee at his computer and gets up to check a print out. He hears a scuttling sound behind him, but signs it off as his imagination. He returns to his desk and hears the sound again. He turns around, worried now. The sound continues, again behind him. The scientist turns back to his desk, but we see only his face. He screams as a shadow advances on him, and the screen fades to black as we hear the sound of frenzied snipping …

I liked the sound of crabs scuttling against a metal corridor/air duct, and therefore based a movie around it.

Our hero, we’ll call him Rob, at one point runs outside and looks over the railing, into the ocean: the ship is surrounded by crabs, using their claws to climb up the side, and a line of crabs making their way up the ship’s stairs …

Yes, just like zombies converging on a car or something.

…a confrontation scene in a giant, empty stock area of the ship, Rob and the captain standing against a wall, facing the crabs, Rob with a gun in his hands.
Captain says “Damnit, Rob! Shoot their weak point!”
“I’m trying,” says Rob, “but the bastards keep strafing!”

Strafing was my other idea.

…Deus ex Machina in the form of a previously thought dead heroine, Clare, emerging with a mighty crab hammer.

At this point I imagined that the film would descend into a series of Deus ex Machinas. I’d go see it, and I’m a member of the pro-crab lobby! I’m going to hope the crustaceans have just suffered a horrible misunderstanding.

Which gives me an idea for the true ending:

Spoilers for my non-existent movie’s ending ahead! You’ve been warned!

Rareware! Eat your filthy lies!

This article marks the first instance of the “Hyper Bowl” category of this site. Any article marked “Hyper Bowl” is going to be uninformed and indignant, or uninformed and enthusiastic. Which flavour Alex are you going to get in each Hyper Bowl? You’ll have to dig past the nonsensical metaphors and find out!

What have we here today? Why, we have a teaser for Banjo-Threeie:

Oh really, Rare? You think that you can continue the franchise that became your greatest bastian of lies?! I said to one of my friends, Hudson, that if Threeie fixed the problems of its predecessors I would forgive Rare. He said that he had forgotten the whole fiasco.
That’s exactly what they wanted an unsuspecting public to think! Rareware, making sequels on next generation platforms belonging to other publishers, so that no one will recall their crimes that shook the video gaming world six years prior!

Snakes on a Plane

I was surprised that Snakes on a Plane fever continued up to a week after its release. Really, I was. Then it died away, as if the major excitement that had built up had never existed.

In my continued quest for topicality and relevance, I present to you my view of Snakes on a Plane.

Article contains 1 (one) expletive

The Nacho Liberation Front

Nacho Libre or, as it is known in some territories, The Free Dorito*, was everything that I expected it to be and more.

It is like Napoleon Dynamite in some aspects, but in many ways it is nothing like Jon Heder’s vehicle for goshness and ambiguous Mormonism. For one thing, Nacho Libre has more of a definite story with scenes that actually relate to each other. Once, when I was at HMV looking through their ridiculously overpriced DVDs, Napoleon Dynamite was playing on their TVs. I had not seen it for several months, and so I thought the disparate scenes being shown were something like a “best of” compilation. I was surprised when I put in my own DVD a few weeks later and that was what the movie was actually like.

But I digress. Nacho Libre is a film that will polarise audiences as Napoleon Dynamite did, and even moreso simply for the inclusion of Jack Black. I love Jack Black, and my New Year 2003 celebration was spent watching Tenacious D perform at the Enmore, so this film was something like Heaven for me. Some of the lines are funny simply because Jack Black is saying them. His control of facial expressions is second to none.

Incongruous Trailers: Threat Level Alpha

When I went to DOA, I saw trailers for what will be a buckwild mainstream success (Talladega Nights), a children’s movie with a good cast (Storm Breaker – Bill Nighy!), and what is guaranteed to be purely horrid which, when last I checked, had a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes: The Covenant. (I just checked again: 2% now.)

The calibre of the movie you go to is going to affect the calibre of the trailers you see, with exceptions made for indisputable films that everyone is guaranteed to go and see (except, strangely enough, I can’t remember ever having seen a legitimate full length Dead Man’s Chest trailer, only a couple of teasers).

No other movie I’m going to see in the coming weeks is going to have a trailer for The Covenant, I can guarantee you that.

Talladega Nights, on the other hand, featured a trio of trailers I did not expect to see, plus one trailer that Americans will never see but was a perfect fit for this particular film.

The most understandable was Casino Royale, which is looking pretty damned good. I have my reservations about Judi Dench playing M in a story where M has been in the position longer than Bond has been a double 0 agent, but that’s really a quibbling argument when you consider just how awesome a Dame she is.
As a side note, the Casino Royale theme song, “You know my name”, leaked onto the internet this week: it’ll have to grow on me. I was looking forward to a big title song rather than just a theme song. I mean, who remembers Rita Coolidge’s “All Time High”, from Octopussy? No one, that’s who! (We’ll take on the world and win/So hold on tight/Let the flight/Begin)

Next up was A Good Year, the new comedy type film from Ridley Scott starring Russell Crowe. Beyond the fact that Crowe is box office poison and that Cinderella Man deserved to do much better than it did, do the audience going to Talladega Nights want to see a film about Russell Crowe – using his Antipodean accent, no less – rediscovering what it means not to be a bastard in France? I honestly can not tell you if I’m interested in seeing it, but Crowe does look somewhat personable and does not have to be offset by RenĂ©e Zellweger.

The big surprise of the selection was Children of Men, the trailer for which can be found here. (Apple.com)
Or, here’s YouTube (curse your usefulness, demon site!):

Children of Men is a dystopian film based on P.D. James’ novel of the same name. In a future where no children have been born for eighteen years, humanity is dying out and the world is at war. One pregnant woman has been discovered, and she must be delivered to safety.
I think that sounds interesting enough, but then it was revealed that the hero was Clive Owen, who has impressed me in the few movies of his that I have seen (Inside Man was particularly good). Then they cracked out the big guns: Julianne Moore, with whom I have become infatuated after absorbing Far From Heaven into my bloodstream over the last few weeks, and Michael Caine, about whom nothing needs to be said other than that he is awesome.

Children of Men came out last week in the UK, comes out here next month and, for reasons that I’m not going to begin to fathom, December 25 in America. (Boxing Day is the biggest day for movies in Australia; but does anyone actually go on Christmas Day?).

Children of Men, in being promoted at Talladega Nights, caught my attention. Yet it seemed out of place there, being promoted at a movie set in a hermetically sealed fantasy world where nothing bad ever happens – and if it does, it certainly doesn’t stick.

I suppose that the lesson I’ve learned is that a trailer doesn’t always need to fit with the movie that it accompanies: if it can make someone aware of, perhaps even interested in, something that they would otherwise be blissfully ignorant of, I suppose that makes everything worthwhile.

(For the record, the one trailer that made complete sense was that for the new Australian film Boytown, about a boy band reuniting in middle age to sing songs about the issues of the middle aged. It actually looks pretty funny, and is an Australian film that might get audiences in.)

Renaissance

I saw this movie a couple of weeks ago but couldn’t muster up interesting enough words. It comes out in America on September 22nd.

Renaissance is a noirish CG motion capture French film. It tells a compelling story with sometimes stiff acting from some of its voice actors, but Daniel Craig and Ian Holm do good jobs with their characters. It heaps some twists on the audience that make it a more satisfying film than if its trajectory had been too straight, but it’s most intriguing aspect is the aesthetic: with the exception of transparencies like glass, the entire film is in black and white. Literally black and white – no grey.
The items in each scene are forced to define each other and it is a striking film. Your brain has to be in the right place to comprehend it, but it’s essentially an animated version of Sin City. The movement makes it easier to follow than Frank Miller’s work on the page, too.

If you can get out to a cinema, I emphatically recommend seeing Renaissance, even if you hate the French.