Friday, August 17, 2007

Camera Obscura - Boll Madness, Directors as Actors, and DVD Super-Collections

ABC has a new show, "iCaught", which spends an hour playing videos from YouTube. Lame, lame, lame. It is just short of an admission that the entertainment available on the internets is far better than what is on television. Oh sure, there have been "reports" asking "How do you make a video which will get millions of hits?" but let's be honest ABC. The reason the show is on is that it costs almost nothing to make, needs little writing, and is little more than filler infomercial for YouTube. I wonder who this appeals to? Other than people who never go on the internets. What's next? The LOLcats Adventures Hour? (Please note that idea is mine and if a TV station uses it, I'm suing.)

The Ed Wood of the 21st Century, director Uwe Boll, fresh from fighting (no really fighting) in the ring with his critics, held a preview for his latest ... um ... "masterpiece", called "Postal." Wired magazine sent a writer to the show and he offers a hilarious take on the event: (via Cinematical)

" ... Chris Kohler describes the film's story as being about "a guy shooting a bunch of people in order to stop Al Qaeda and a religious cult let by Dave Foley from unleashing on the world a batch of avian bird flu hidden in a shipment of penis-shaped children's toys voiced by Verne Troyer (pull the string and it says 'only my father and my priest can touch me there!')"

Cinematical also features a report
this week on famous film directors who performed as actors in movies, and notes, of course, Orson Welles in "The Third Man" and John Huston in "Chinatown." (Huston as Noah in his version of "The Bible" is a true comedy gem, by the way.) I would add a few to their list, like Martin Scorcese's terrifying turn as an angry boyfriend spying on his girlfriend from the back of Robert De Niro's cab in "Taxi Driver" and David Cronenberg as the only good part of the Clive Barker movie "Nightbreed", where he plays a nasty serial killer. And though brief, Croneberg does have some fun in "Jason X". Do you know some other director-as-actor movies worth noting?

As of this weekend, we now have four versions of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", the newest is a bona fide disaster-behind-the-camera starring Nicole Kidman called simply "Invasion." And while the 1970s version from Phillip Kauffman is an eerie and creepy Nixonian nightmare, the 1950s original take on Jack Finney's novel just can't be beat. It follows Finney's story the best and has a slowly building sense of terror which is most impressive. Even the tacked on 'studio ending' does not harm the movie.

The original version also has a short performance by Sam Peckinpah as a plumber. So there's that. But the acting, the music and the careful build of paranoia as pod-created aliens take over everyone is simply so well done, that there is no need to re-invent it.

And since I'm talking about multiple versions of one movie, director Ridley Scott wins that award, hands down, as he releases a massive 5-disc ultimate collection of his movie "Blade Runner," which comes with it's own shiny, futuristic briefcase. The movie(s) in this collection will give you a headache as you try and keep up with new version after new version. The set includes the 'brand new' cut of the movie, for which Scott actually filmed new scenes and dialog last year, the original theatrical cut, the international cut, the first Director's Cut from Scott and even a working cut which has even more changes.

Ridley, dude -- stop. Just stop. Put the movie down and walk away.

Remaking a movie might perhaps be left to Jack Black and Mos Def, who play video store owners who decide, after accidentally erasing their entire stock of movies, to go ahead and remake some famous films themselves and rent the new versions to their customers. Based on this preview of Michel Gondry's "Be Kind, Rewind", out early next year, I will make every effort to see this:

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