Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Early X-mas present: The Hobbit a go with Jackson and co.!

New Line, MGM and Peter Jackson are finally joining forces to adapt J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy! Though it was obvious Peter Jackson and co. would have been the right people to do the material justice, a lawsuit Jackson filed against New Line for money owed two years ago threatened to stop that from ever happening. It is likely that personal feelings were cast aside after New Line's latest attempt to start a new franchise out of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass proved to be less than stellar at the box office. Despite this most welcomed development, there is no firm indication that Jackson would direct the two-parter prequel. He's only mentioned as executive producer. Personally, it defeats the purpose of all the drama and uproar and petitions to get his involvement, only to have him sit on the sidelines as producer. It's his directorial knack for creating Middle Earth that got people all stoked, and having just his name appearing in the credits somewhere won't be enough. At least LOTR effects house WETA and maybe LOTR composer Howard Shore (another strained relationship when Jackson fired him from King Kong) will be back to keep the LOTR ambience consistent.

Sam Raimi has expressed interest in directing The Hobbit before, while people are suggesting directors like Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Terry Gilliam in the comment sections of other sites if Jackson is truly not back on the director's seat. Cuaron's an interesting idea, though, but I'm for Jackson all the way, because it makes sense, not because I'm a raving PJ fanboy. Honest.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The 65th Golden Globes Award Nominees

Wow, seven Best Picture nominees, and I haven't seen a single one of them! That's probably because none of them has been shown in Singapore yet. Most award-baiting movies are released in the year after it premiered in the US, making it difficult for me to put them on my Best Movies list. Should I hold my Best Movies of 2007 list till I've seen these movies, which may be released as late as March 2008, or do I throw them into the 2008 list instead, but that will make my list out of sync with what goes on in the American film industry? Let's say if I stayed strictly chronological, and I found No Country For Old Men to be the best movie released in 2008, wouldn't it be a little weird to see it competing for the best pic position on my 2008 list, which will only be completed in 2009, one long year after all the hype about it has already passed?

The best solution, I think would be to delay the BMF list till after the Oscar nominees are announced (January 22, 2008). Let's make it a tentative February 2, so that I have some time to catch up on whatever's left that needs watching. It'll give me time to catch some of the Golden Horse winners too, which should have all been released on DVDs by then. If you haven't noticed, I'm a purist in terms of watching movies in their original language, and in Singapore you can only legally watch a Hong Kong movie in Cantonese when they're released on DVD with a Cantonese track included. It's likely that Stephen Chow's CJ7 won't make it into my 2007 list despite being released within the new window period, but I consider CJ7 to be a 2008 movie anyway, so it's no biggie.

Back to the Globes. What I like about the Golden Globes is that it has special categories that separate the dramas from the comedies and musicals. Not that it's trying to give fair playing ground to these genres or something, but to provide a spotlight for movies that may not make the limited five-nominee space for the Oscar best pic trophy. I'm eager to watch American Gangster, No Country for Old Men, Eastern Promises, Across the Universe, Juno, Sweeney Todd, Charlie Wilson's War, and ok, maybe Atonement. Though I haven't seen it, but from what I've heard about it Bee Movie doesn't seem like the type to deserve a nom, and Persepolis should have been in its place instead of competing against live-action flicks in the Best Foreign Film category, which will likely be won by either Lust, Caution or The Kite Runner, both really big critics and awards favourites. Unable to comment on the rest until I've seen the movies.

Anyway, enough of my ranting. Here's the link to the Globe noms, or go directly to the official Globe site here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The 44th Taipei Golden Horse Award Winners

The winners were announced on Saturday, 8th December, and as expected, Lust, Caution was the big winner of the night, bagging statuettes in the best film score, makeup and costume, adapted screenplay, new performer, actor, director and picture categories. It's a small compensation for being snubbed at the Oscars, but frankly it's sad to see revered directors like Lee and Martin Scorsese obsess over the Academy Awards. They don't need the gold, bald men to prove to us how awesome they already are.

Ang Lee was also awarded the Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year trophy. Frankly, they should have given him this last year for Brokeback Mountain, which is a far more significant movie milestone than Lust, Caution could ever be.

See my truncated list, or go to the Golden Horse main site for the complete winner's list.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The annual LOTR cash-in continues...

Last year I wrote an article about movie studios' attempts to ride on the fantasy revival fad brought about by the Lord of the Rings movies. The Chronicles of Narnia was one successful endeavour, but last year's Eragon wasn't, though I was optimistic about it.

Of course, the company who started it all couldn't just sit still and let everyone else ride on its success. Planning to start another lucrative franchise (in case things don't work out with LOTR prequel The Hobbit), New Line is releasing fantasy epic The Golden Compass this week. Based on the first book of Philip Pullman's award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy, the story revolves around two kids who find adventures travelling between parallel universes. A break from the usual medieval Nordic settings in many fantasy movies, The Golden Compass offers steampunk-influenced technology, locales and fashion senses. Think Full Metal Alchemist, or... er... Wild Wild West. Some of the main characters apparently possess creatures which they could summon, something like a Pokemon, called "daemons". Pok-emon, da-emon, get the connection? Um, no, I haven't read this book either.

As much as Narnia was lauded by religious groups for its positive Christian references, Pullman's works were derided for its atheistic messages. Naturally, the movie adaptation is also getting a lot of unwarranted attention and comments, despite the fact that it's not even released yet. Who knows how much of the purported anti-Catholic stuff from the book got translated on to the big screen? But it's an easier target for overzealous people (who are even planning to boycott the premiere), because it hasn't made as much money or name as J. K. Rowling and her pro-witchcraft Harry Potter mega-franchise. It's likely that the controversy would only spark the public's curiosity to New Line's box-office advantage. But, like what I once felt about Eragon, I hope that there is a good movie somewhere amidst the PR frenzy, and that director Chris Weitz (he of American Pie fame) has more up his sleeves than just dick and fart jokes.

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