Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Archive for March, 2012

Dark Shadows – Poster Art

Nine new Dark Shadows posters were released last week, just got around to posting them… expect a flood of promo material between now and the release date. Great stills HERE.

Nagisa Ōshima 大島 渚

Nagisa Ōshima (大島 渚, born March 31, 1932, Kyoto) is a Japanese film director and screenwriter, best known for his 1983 movie Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, starring musicians David Bowie and Ryuichi Sakamoto. After graduating from Kyoto University Oshima was hired by film production company Shochiku Ltd. and quickly progressed to directing his own movies, making his debut feature A Town of Love and Hope (愛と希望の街; Ai to kibō no machi) in 1959.

Ōshima’s cinematic career and influence developed very swiftly, and early watershed films Cruel Story of Youth (青春残酷物語), The Sun’s Burial (太陽の墓場) and Night and Fog in Japan (日本の夜と霧) all followed in 1960. Due to the political controversy surrounding the latter film, Ōshima left Shochiku and directed The Catch (1961), about the relationship between a wartime Japanese village and a captured African American serviceman. The Catch introduced a thematic exploration of bigotry and xenophobia, themes which would be explored in greater depth in the later documentary Diary Of Yunbogi, and feature films Death By Hanging and Three Resurrected Drunkards.

Ōshima produced a series of documentaries; notably among them 1965’s Diary Of Yunbogi. Based upon an examination of the lives of street children in Seoul. He followed with Band of Ninja (1967), Ninja Bugei-chō (1967), Diary Of A Shinjuku Thief and Boy (both 1969).

The Ceremony (1971) was a satirical look at Japanese attitudes. However, Ōshima is best known for In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no korīda; 愛のコリーダ 1976), a film based on a true story of fatal sexual obsession in 1930s Japan. Ōshima, who was openly a critic of censorship and his contemporary Akira Kuosawa’s humanism, was determined that the film should feature unsimulated sex and thus the undeveloped film had to be transported to France to be processed and an uncensored version of the movie is still unavailable in Japan.

His follow-up and 1978 companion film to In the Realm of the Senses, Empire of Passion (Ai no bōrei; 愛の亡霊), Ōshima took a more restrained approach to depicting the sexual passions of the two lovers driven to murder, and the film won the 1978 Cannes Film Festival award for best director.

In 1983 Ōshima had a critical success with a film made partly in English, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (known as Furyo in several countries), which is set in a wartime prison camp, and features rockstar David Bowie and electronic musician Ryuichi  Sakamoto, alongside future director Takeshi Kitano, as examples of Western and Eastern military virtue. Furyo, as the movie is known in Europe and many other non-English speaking countries, has long since become a cult classic. Max, Mon Amour(1986), written with Luis  Buñuel’s frequent collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière, was a comedy about a diplomat’s wife (Charlotte Rampling) whose love affair with a chimpanzee is quietly incorporated into an eminently civilised Ménage à trois

For much of the 1980s and 1990s, he served as president of the Directors Guild of Japan. (He actually won the inaugural Directors Guild of Japan New Directors Award in 1960.)

In 1996 Ōshima suffered a stroke, but he returned to directing in 1999 with the period piece Taboo (Gohatto), featuring Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence actor Takeshi Kitano and music by co-star and composer Ryuichi  Sakamoto. Oshima has since suffered two more strokes, so future films are unlikely. Nagisa Ōshima currently lives in Fujisawa in Kangawa Prefecture.

A collection of Ōshima’s essays and articles was published in English in 1993 as Cinema, Censorship and the State. A critical study by Maureen Turim, The Films of Oshima Nagisa: Images of a Japanese Iconoclast appeared in 1998

ANOH – Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!

That time of year again, six friends and myself attended the ‘Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!’ short film night at the 6th Annual A Night of Horror film festival. The festival this year is being run in conjunction with Fantastic Planet, therefore there are more films and shorts, however they are an equal mix of Sci-Fi and Horror. The shorts program we attended consisted of ten short zombie flicks of varying length and quality.

As with last year, rather than review them all and give you my opinion I decided to poll my friends to get a more balanced response to the screening… this is the result of that poll. The originally programmed final short was the fantastic Play Dead (See the trailer HERE), however due to a delivery delay it was replaced at the last moment by Brutal Relax which was a favourite from the H. P. Lovecraft session.

Year of the Child (Dir: Adam Simpson / 7m / NZL / 2011) 2/5 Stars A paint-sniffing teenager races home to save his sister from some extremely fast, zombie like crazy people. Frenetic chase movie, however most of the crowd were underwhelmed.

Bats in the Belfry (Dir: Joao Alves / 7m / PRT / 2010) 2½/5 Stars Animated cowboys & vampires as an homage to Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns and bloodsucking monsters. Nice style, very much in the same vein as Samurai Jack.

Rotting Hill (Dir: James Cunningham / 4m / NZL / 2011) 3½/5 Stars Rotting Hill is an excellent short film about love and zombies! Parody of the famous movie “Notting Hill” but this time with living dead, this zombie short film was completed in twelve weeks by the students of the Media Design School. Awesome short film, very funny and nailed some great zombie touchstones.

Zombirama (Dir: Ariel Lopez and Nano Benayon / 7m / ARG / 2011) 3½/5 Stars Ariel Lopez Zombirama is a 7-minute “whimsical” mash-up of animation comedy and horror featuring potato-faced zombies that go around doing zombie stuff. Delivered in an early 80’s VHS style. Great fun, got better as it went on, more than could be said for…

Just Say No (Dir: Abiel Bruhn, John Rocco / 22m / USA / 2011) 2½/5 Stars Darius stumbles upon two mangled corpses and a 2 pound bag of pot, apparently the remnants of a drug deal gone wrong, he swallows his morals and steals the drugs, planning on flipping them and leaving town with his girlfriend Vanessa in one short night. But after he gets his clients amassed for an impromptu party, he quickly finds out that the weed has some rather harsh side effects – loss of motor function, pale or clammy skin, and the insatiable hunger for human flesh… way too long.

Early Evening of the Meth Head Hipsters (Dir: Jonny Fleet / 7m / CAN 2010) 2½/5 Stars A Whistler couple’s trip to the city takes an unfortunate turn when they run into a bicycle gang of meth head hipsters with a taste for blood. Can they be saved? Well, we hope not.. stared well and featured some nice bloodletting.

Fitness Class Zombie (Dir: Chris Walsh / 1m / CAN / 2011) 1½/5 Stars According to the director Chris Walsh, this short animation addresses a serious issue that our society faces today- growing undead obesity. A fun one-note short.

Hell Blaster Bastards (Dir: Gabriel Bouvier, Remi Bouvier / 9m / JPN / 2011) 1½/5 Stars In the deserted island, the man is buried in the sand up to his head. Four shadowy figures emerge, the bloody bastards of the title… Cannibal, Brain crushing, Japanese tits out, mental short film… Overlong and pointless but elicited the odd laugh throughout the crowd. The only short to receive a couple of ‘0’ scores.

Dead Friends (Dir: Stephen Martin / 11m / CAN / 2011) 3¼/5 Stars Nine year old Lola Turtle is an odd and lonely little girl whose only companion is her treasured and tattered stuffed bunny, Mister Wimperbottom…until she finds a way to grow her very own ‘DEAD’ best friend. It’s a bedtime story filled with blood, guts, and gardening… Really well done, excellent make-up and effects.

Brutal Relax (Dir: David Munoz, Adrian Cardona and Rafa Dengra / 15m / ESP /2010) 4/5 Stars Mr Olivares has already recovered, but now he needs a vacation. To go to some heavenly place where he can relax and blithely enjoy himself. However, when a group of blood-thirsty (LoveCraft style) monster-aliens appear and kill everyone on the beach, Mr Olivares takes matters into his own hands. Best kills of the night, using a bloodied childs corpse as a bludgeon… best audience response.

Overall a fun evening, however the shorts on display weren’t as good as the best of last year, there was nothing as good as The Living Want Me Dead. We had a laugh. Two notes for the organisers, most of these shorts are almost 1 year old now and readily available on YouTube, also most of the films were too dark, washed out and had little to no sound level control. I realise that the quality of the movie files aren’t high end, however cutting them together with an audio pass isn’t difficult to do.

Snow White and the Huntsman – Trailer

Here’s the TV spot for the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman, the reimagining of the classic fairy tale from the producer of Tim Burton’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’, Joe Roth. Starring Kristen Stewart of ‘Twilight’, Chris Hemsworth of ‘Thor’ and ‘The Avengers’, and Oscar winning actress Charlize Theron. Very different in tone to the other Snow White feature, Mirror, Mirror.

Charles Manson

Charles Milles Manson (born November 12, 1934) is an American criminal who led what became known as the Manson Family, a quasi-commune that arose in California in the late 1960s. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the Tate/LaBianca murders carried out by members of the group at his instruction. He was convicted of the murders through the joint-responsibility rule, which makes each member of a conspiracy guilty of crimes his fellow conspirators commit in furtherance of the conspiracy’s object.

Manson believed in what he called “Helter Skelter,” a term he took from the song of the same name by The Beatles. Manson believed Helter Skelter to be an impending apocalyptic race war, which he described in his own version of the lyrics to the Beatles’ song. He believed his murders would help precipitate that war. From the beginning of his notoriety, a pop culture arose around him in which he ultimately became an emblem of insanity, violence and the macabre. The term was later used by Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi as the title of a book he wrote about the Manson murders.

At the time the Family began to form, Manson was an unemployed ex-convict, who had spent half of his life in correctional institutions for a variety of offenses. Before the murders, he was a singer-songwriter on the fringe of the Los Angeles music industry, chiefly through a chance association with Dennis Wilson, founding member and drummer of The Beach Boys. After Manson was charged with the crimes he was later convicted of, recordings of songs written and performed by him were released commercially. Artists, including Guns ‘N’ Roses, White Zombie and Marilyn Manson, have covered his crap songs.

On March 29, 1971, a Los Angeles, California jury recommended the death penalty for Manson and three female followers. Manson’s death sentence was automatically commuted to life imprisonment when a 1972 decision by the Supreme Court of California temporarily eliminated the state’s death penalty. California’s eventual reinstatement of capital punishment did not affect Manson, who is currently incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison.

Chloe Moretz is Carrie

Chloe Moretz tweeted today: Never been so happy in my life! Thank you Kim Pierce and thank u MGM for the chance of a lifetime I will never forget!

MGM, Screen Gems and director Kim Peirce have made their decision and made the formal offer today to Chloe Moretz to play the title role in the remake of the Brian DePalma original that was based on the 1974 Stephen King bestseller (King has had his say HERE). She’s expected to play the shy high school student Carrie White, who is raised by a nightmarish religious fanatic mother, and comes to grip with devastating telepathic powers just as she reaches puberty. She eventually uses those gifts for lethal means when fellow classmates use the prom as an excuse to humiliate her before the entire school in a parable about bullying. Sissy Spacek played the character in the first movie, with Piper Laurie playing her mother, and Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, John Travolta, Betty Buckley, William Katt and PJ Soles rounding out the cast. Both Spacek and Laurie got Oscar nominations for their work in the 1976 film.

The studio and Pierce have been meeting with actresses for the past two weeks. Word all along was that while names like Dakota Fanning were circulating, Peirce and the studio had an eye on Moretz. The studio denied it at the time, but what actually happened is, Moretz didn’t meet with Peirce until last weekend. She got the job immediately. Moretz, who first came on with performances in Kick-Ass, (500) Days Of Summer and Let Me In, is at the top of the crop of young actresses. Coming off Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, her next major film is the Tim Burton-directed Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp.

Insiders said that once they make Moretz’s deal, they will focus on landing the psycho mom and supporting cast and they will shoot this year.

Quentin Tarantino – Poster Art Part 3

Last post featuring more poster art inspired by the films of Quentin Tarantino.