Category Archives: Announcements and News

Miyazaki says sayonara

miyazaki-ponyo-bg

One of the world’s greatest living directors has retired from feature filmmaking. Miyazaki Hayao has been circling retirement for several years already (I had been under the impression that Ponyo would be his last film until I heard about The Wind Rises). As both ANN and Guardian Enzo note, he may still participate in other projects in various capacities — I suspect that such a restless muse as Miyazaki’s isn’t quite done yet — but it looks like we won’t get any more films directed by the man himself. The finality of this announcement strikes a chord of bittersweet triumph. It’s sad that we can’t expect any more masterpieces from the single biggest artist in Japanese animation, yet it’s a testament to the size of his achievements that he’s retiring at the top of his game at the age of 72. Most artists fade away; they may retain some cultural stature, but few choose to abdicate the throne while their reign remains virtually unchallenged. Fewer still are in a position to step down after a reign of decades. To see a giant gracefully lay himself to rest, rather than fall, is a privilege, if a poignant one. Arigatou gozaimasu, sensei. Here’s hoping we haven’t quite seen the last. ☕ Continue reading

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Talk about softening the blow

Patrick Troughton Doctor

I was pretty disappointed when I heard that Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who in this year’s Christmas special. Not upset — he’s given us what I consider to be the definitive New Who Doctor, and if he wants to take a bow while he’s still in peak form, I can’t blame him. Not to mention that it’s always exciting to anticipate what fresh face we’ll get to see next. But I’m still disappointed. Smith is such a joy to watch, and he’s done such a great job bridging the feel of classic and new Who in his performance that I had been hoping to see him grow with the role for a few more years, especially since he started so young. Though he might pop in here and there in the future, his era is coming to an end, and it’s a bit of a shame that we won’t get another year or two out of him.

But this news, if true, could very well make up for it. I’ve tried listening to the audio recordings of some of those missing episodes. It’s just not the same. Half the reason (possibly the biggest reason) to watch the classic episodes, apart from the imagination and wit of their better scripts, is to relish the performances. The core cast members especially are often doing quite a lot with their roles, and nobody more so than the people playing the Doctors. Finally getting to see such ballyhooed stories as “Evil of the Daleks” would be a real treat. I’ll definitely be keeping an ear to the ground on this rumor. Via io9. ☕


Reader question: What 2013 movies am I looking forward to?

Another reader question. Rob is pretty straightforward:

[A]ny 2013 movies you’re really looking forward to?

Indeed. My primary go-to guide is this io9 preview, which covers 77 sci-fi/fantasy flicks. Since that kind of stuff is definitely my bag, let me just run down a couple highlights, listed in chronological order.

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G.I. Joe: Retaliation – I dug the first one. What else can I say? Bring on the mountaineering ninja battles.

Upstream Color – Shane Carruth has finally made his second movie. Being as how Primer is one of the masterpieces of the 2000s, I couldn’t be more excited for this. I’m especially atwitter over the Kubrickean visual rhymes all over the most recent trailer. I’ll go ahead and say that I hope this will not only be one of the best (if not the best) films of the year, but of the decade.

Oblivion – Cool trailer. Joseph Kosinski did an awesome job with Tron: Legacy, and the biggest misstep with that film was casting Garret Hedlund in the lead role. With Tom Cruise as the headliner, I’m thinking this will rock.

This is the End aka The End of the World – For some reason, I’ve become a huge Seth Rogen fan in the last few years. I still despise Superbad, but I’ve liked most of his other stuff. As much as I bag on raunchy comedy, the redband trailer made me laugh.

The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, RIPD – July’s gonna be packed. The first two films already have cool trailers out, and with Gore Verbinski and Guillermo Del Toro directing them, I’m pretty confident I’ll have a good time. Not nearly as confident about RIPD, but when I saw him speak at a convention, James Hong said that he got strong vibes (Blade Runner strength) about its potential. Good enough for me.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – I dug the first one. What else can I say? Bring on the Fillion.

Riddick – I’m a fan of the first two films. I fully expect much spacefaring badassery.

The Tomb – Arnie and Sly team up to break out of a high-tech prison. Fingers crossed that Dominic Purcell is their man on the outside!

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – I liked the comics. I liked Sin City. I even liked The Spirit. Odds of me liking this? Three to one in favor.

The World’s End – Pegg, Frost, and Wright re-team for genre shenanigans. What better reason for the world to end, if not to have them do a movie about it?

Ender’s Game – Let me clarify that I’m not looking forward to this per se. Gavin Hood is a hack, and my expectation is that he’ll screw this up. But it’s based on one of my very favorite books, so I’ll be seeing it no matter what. The line between fandom and masochism is oh so very thin.

Thor: The Dark World – The first one was surprisingly solid, and this one apparently has Thor versus the Ninth Doctor. Fantastic!

Saving Mr. Banks – A biopic about the making of one of my ten favorite films of all time? Yeah, pretty pumped.

Gravity – The director of Children of Men does hard sci-fi.

Snow Piercer – The director of The Host and Mother does a post-apocalyptic, socially-conscious… something. Really, I don’t know much about this one, other than the people involved make it a must see.

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That’s the easy part. Other films I’m hoping will come out in the theater near me this next year are as follows:

Chinese Zodiac – Jackie Chan’s last action picture. Absolutely required viewing.

The Grandmasters – Wong Kar-Wai does period kung-fu epic. Advance word is that it’s incredible.

Amour – This should be out pretty soon near me. To say I’m “excited” to see it wouldn’t be accurate. Let’s just say that I expect it to be an experience I will appreciate having had once I’ve had time to recover from it.

Bullet to the Head, The Last Stand – More Sly and Arnie. Because I’m one of those idiots who went to see Expendables 2 opening day.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – Probably really bad. Then again, the trailers make it seem like it has some Hong Kong-esque energy to it.

Parker – Statham plays Richard Stark’s (aka Donald Westlake’s) most indelible creation. Pretty jazzed about this, especially as a potential franchise. Parker aged along with the books (more or less), so Statham could conceivably have a lifelong ride with this one.

A Good Day to Die Hard – Duh.

Stoker – An English-language vampire flick by the director of Oldboy. Not enough to get me salivating, but the trailer was pretty sexy.

Dead Man Down, Oz the Great and Powerful – I’ll probably be seeing one of these for my birthday. Not particularly looking forward to either, but you never know.

To the Wonder – Terrence Malick hasn’t made a great film since The Thin Red Line, but everything he does is still worth seeing.

Much Ado About Nothing – I’ve already blogged about this one. Very excited.

Oldboy – I expect the remake to be better than the original. You decide if I’m joking or not.

The Monuments Men – I’m a fan of Clooney as a filmmakers, and this sounds like a cool Oscar-season ensemble piece.

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That’s pretty much it for the ones I know I’m hyped about. There are a few big other big ones I know that I’ll see just because, and a few about which I’m on the fence. The biggest maybe-maybe-not film at the moment is probably Iron Man 3. I’m not a particular fan of the first two, though I liked the second one better than the first. I’m also a bit leery of films trying to tap into The Dark Knight in order to grant themselves some legitimacy, and it feels like Iron Man 3 might be going for that vibe. At the same time, it looks visually impressive, it’s gone Shane Black directing, and if there’s one thing the Marvel films have done pretty well, it’s build up the need for heroism, even if the heroes are flawed and human. One of the things I think the trailer did particularly well was have that chest cell behind the logo wink out, then wink back on again. A small gesture, but well-delivered. I know I’ll probably see it within a week or two of its opening; I just hope it tops the disappointing first two films.

All of that said, though, one of the things I most look forward to in any given year is the number of films that I hadn’t previously anticipated, but which completely take me by surprise in the most pleasant way. The above list is by no means exhaustive. I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for me that I haven’t anticipated.

So, dear readers: what are you planning to see in 2013? ☕


Trailer: Star Trek Into Darkness

Aw, crap. I was not a fan of the 2009 Star Trek reboot. (No, seriously, it was not good.) It was bad enough that J.J. Abrams wanted to turn Star Trek into Star Wars. (Not even good Star Wars. More like Attack of the Clones, except with incessant lens flare and a less interesting storyline.) Now he apparently wants Star Trek to be Star Wars‘ answer to The Dark Knight and  Inception. Don’t get me wrong: I loves me some Christopher Nolan. But one of the reasons I love the old Star Trek franchise is because it was distinctly Star Trek. Even when the The Motion Picture turned out to be Star Trek‘s answer to 2001: A Space Odyssey, it was still Star Trek. It could very well be that Abrams is trying to be all socially relevant, thoughtful, and darn-tootin’ optimistic while wrestling with tough questions (that is to say, Star Trek) while still delivering a smashing sci-fi epic, but this trailer doesn’t look like it. It looks like a potentially fun sci-fi epic, but it doesn’t look like Star Trek. At least, not to me. Even if Trek lost its way in the later years, as many fans would argue, there were still undeniable flashes of its core mission. I didn’t see any of that in Abrams’s vision. To him, Star Trek was a means to an end — the end being making a big, blockbuster outer space saga, rather than the end being making a great Star Trek movie. Now it appears that Star Trek is the means to the end of making a Christopher Nolan space opera. I think that’s something to mourn, if for no other reason than a Christopher Nolan space opera would probably be a lot more like Star Trek than J.J. Abrams’s Star Wars knockoff, which happens to bear the name Star Trek. Hopefully it’ll be good (unlikely), even if it is disappointing (inevitably). ☕


Trailer: The Grandmasters

Interesting and exciting. I expect that WKW is going to play with the tropes and conventions of the martial arts genre (and in a way that’s different from Ashes of Time, which was more specifically a take on wuxia), but I’m not yet sure how. (My guess is that most of the action in the film was already showcased in the trailer, but I could be wrong.) I look forward to seeing what he’s up to, especially since Donnie Yen just did a couple of excellent Yip Man biopics within the last several years, and Wong will probably inject the film with his trademark world-weary romanticism.

Via Opus. ☕


Happy Election day!

Land of the brave and free. ☕


Brad Pitt to slay giant squid (I hope)

This is the first I’ve heard that David Fincher is keen to remake (or re-adapt?) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for Disney. Richard Fleischer’s 1954 version of the film was a childhood favorite of mine, and I’d love to see what Fincher would do with the material, whether it’s a modern update of the earlier film or a more straightforward adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel. Between Fincher possibly remaking 20,000 Leagues and Joe Kosinski trying to do The Black Hole (another childhood fave), it looks like Disney might specifically be targeting me as the ideal audience. Now if only they could get Joe Johnston for that rumored Rocketeer remake and maybe Guillermo Del Toro for Journey to the Center of the Earth, I might just start physically to age backwards. ☕


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