CyberSurfing 01/03/08

A Life in Horror Has Paid Off Well for Barker: The GlobeAndMail.Com profiles author Clive Barker.
Tip of the Week: Fantasy Moguls predicts the box office results for January and concludes that, despite the hype, both ONE MISSED CALL and CLOVERFIELD are wild cards at bext, not guaranteed hits.
 Early Summer Looks Good with INDY 4, NARNIA 2: Prognosticating even further into the future than Fantasy Moguls, the Hollywood Reporter sizes up this year’s summer offerings and concludes that business will be big.

CyberSurfing 01/02/08

A Film Year Full of Escapism, Flat in Attendance: The New York Times takes a look back at the Year 2007 in Film, noting that nine of the top ten money-makers were fantasy and/or science-fiction.
MIKLÓS RÓZSA—An Onstage Tribute: TheEveningClass.Blogspot.Com offers a short career profile of one of the great film composers of all time, whose scores include Alfred Hitchcock’s SUSPICION and the fantasy classics THIEF OF BAGDAD and THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD. The article was inspired by  a tribute to Rozsa, currently at the Catro Theatre in San Francisco.
The Shallow End: Some 2008 New Year Resolutions: Over at RopeofSilocon.Com, Dave Frank offers up some interesting New Year’s resolutions, such as:

*The writers strike should continue, and the brewing summer-time actor and directors’ strikes must occur for one-and only one-reason: to kill the Justice League of America movie. Even with George Miller’s involvement, not even the voice of God can persuade me this film won’t be a disaster. The very idea of a JLA movie is rotten as an Englishman’s tooth. Mixing together several famous superheroes with complicated backgrounds and fitting them into a 2-hour movie is a perfect recipe for a junk food shilling product full of silly-looking half-baked characters.

Frank also has choice comments regarding M. Night Shyamalan’s THE HAPPENING, J.J. Abrams STAR TREK and CLOVERFIELD, plus THE DARK NIGHT, IDIANA JONES, IN THE NAME OF THE KING, THE MUMMY 3, and more. Oh, and Roger Ebert should no longer review epic fantasy films after giving a four-star rating to THE GOLDEN COMPASS.

CyberSurfing 01//01/08

TMCA to Screen Documentaries and Horror Movies: MehrNews.Com informs us that the Cinematheque of Tehran’s Museum of Contemporary Art will include some horror titles for the 2008 winter season:

The silent horror movie “The Golem: How He Came into the World” by Paul Wegener and Carl Boese and “Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror”, the German Expressionist film by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, will be screened on January 3 and 5 respectively.
Other films slated to be screened at the venue include Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.’s “The Blob”, The Omen (1976) by Richard Donner, William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist” and also the Iranian documentaries “Days without Calendar” by Mehrdad Oskuii, Sudabeh Mojaveri’s “Inana” and “Mountain’s Sad Song” by Hamed Khosravi.

Japanese Horror Film Gets a Hollywood Makeover: ClickTheCity.Com offers up one of those articles that really doesn’t need to be written, explaining how some Hollywood producers have remade ONE MISSED CALL for U.S. audiences. I say it “doesn’t need to be written” because the filmmaker comments are so predictable that you could have written them yourself without bothering to interview: basically, they found a good Japanese film, copied the plot, and changed the details to make it more palatable to a Western audience.
By the way, Happy New Year!

CyberSurfing 12/28/07

Jimmy Steward (center) in Frank Capra's Christmas classic.HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GEORGE BAILY examines Frank Capra’s Christmas classic IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, reminding us that the film originally fare poorly with audiences and critics and only became popular thanks to television reruns and video re-releases. Writer Graham Fuller insists that the film’s reputation as an optimistic piece of fantasy is a mis-interpretation, but he never quite explains what he believes the film truly is.
2007 YEAR IN REVIEW: TEN WORST FILMS includes such worthy entries as MR. MAGORIUM’S WONDER EMPORIUM, THE ASTRONAUT FARMER, YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END.
HORROR SHOW AT CHICAGO CITY ARTS GALLERY looks at an art exhibition curated by a husband and wife team who teach a course in horror writing and film production.
BIRMINGHAM PLANS SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION TO RIVAL DRAGONCON: The title pretty much says it all.
THE BEST IN SCI FI TV 2007 takes a look at how well gender and minority roles were presented in this years television sci-fi shows.

Cybersurfing: Eyeing "The Orphanage"

orphanage.jpgIn a combination of review and interview at EyeWeekly.Com, Jason Anderson proclaims:

Elegantly rendered and effectively spooky, The Orphanage courts the same viewers that may or may not have much love for genre movies but still happily lost themselves in Pan’s Labyrinth — in other words, folks too classy to admit to seeing a Wishmaster movie. In fact, Guillermo Del Toro had more than a spectral presence in this first feature by Spanish filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona. Del Toro and Bayona met 14 years ago at the Sitges fantasy film fest. The director of Pan’s Labyrinth and Cronos kept tabs on his friend’s budding movie career, eventually agreeing to not only co-produce The Orphanage but endorse it with the “Guillermo Del Toro Presents…” that appears in the marketing.
In an interview with Bayona and The Orphanage’s star Belén Rueda at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, the director says that the films have another important connection. “We were both focused on the idea of how people make fiction to understand their reality,” says Bayona. “I didn’t know we shared this because Guillermo was editing Pan’s Labyrinth while we were working on ours.”
And though both movies combine elements of horror, fantasy and psychological drama, The Orphanage is a less radical departure from genre tropes, drawing from a tradition of ghost stories that stems from Henry James’ 1898 chiller The Turn of the Screw. Rueda stars as Laura, a woman who returns with her husband and young son to open a school in the orphanage where she was raised. Various strange occurrences and one tragic event lead Laura to investigate the mysteries of the place and of her past.
While The Orphanage is reminiscent of The Turn of the Screw and such cinematic kin as The Innocents and The Others, Bayona says that fully conveying Laura’s story was more important than worrying about reference points. “Everything was so strong about this character and her journey,” he says, adding that “what started like a scary movie ended like a melodrama.”

CyberSurfing 12/27/07

What news of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror is wafting through the Internet this holiday season? Follow us, and find out…
BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT FOR CHRISTMAS is a nice article that examines the historical importance of the film and looks at some of the flaws that have been corrected in the latest DVD release.
ARE WEL ALL BECOMING GEEKS? asks why some people still profess to hate science-fiction, even though many of the innovations we take fo granted today (like digital watches and iPods) were first imagined by sci-fi visionaries.
10 SCIENCE FICTION MOVIES EVERY SCI-FI FAN SHOULD WATCH starts out strong with BLADE RUNNER, 2001, 12 MONKEYS, etc, then goes down the tubes with THE 13TH FLOOR and PITCH BLACK.

CyberSurfing 12/21/07

More ephemera distilled from the infinite vastness of the Internet…
VATICAN DENOUNCES “COMPASS”: The Vatican newspaper l’Osservatore Romanao dismisses the film as “Godless and hopeless.” Unfortunately, Hollywood Today writer Stacey Silberman conflates the Vatican criticism with calls by an American group for a boycott, despite the fact that the l’Osservatore Romanao editorial does not advise Catholics against seeing the film, merely remarking that those who do see it will find it “devoid of any particular emotion apart from a great chill.”
RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY’S BIGGEST ALLY also deals with THE GOLDEN COMPASS: Philip Slater wonders why critical reaction to the film was so negative. Despite the title of his post, he concludes not that critics are closet religious bigots but that they are men who fear identifying with a young female protagonist for two hours. Slater makes no attempt to reconcile his theory with the almost universal critical adoration for THE WIZARD OF OZ.
NARNIA 2 TRAILER: Yahoo movies has the trailer for THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN.
DRIVEN BY THE FORCE OF WILL: In this Times Online profile of Will Smith, the actor reveals his strategy for choosing blockbuster projects like INDEPENDENCE DAY and I AM LEGEND.
LEEDS FILM FEST: The Spanish horror hit THE ORPHANAGE takes home the Melies d’Argent (“Silver Melies”) award for best science-fiction/fantasy film. (For you youngsters out there, the award is named after George Melis, the silent movie magician who pioneered the art of cinematic special effects.)
HORROR FOR THE HOLIDAYS: IF Magazine offers another list of holiday horror films. Unlike the last such list we mentioned, this one includes BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974). GREMLINS and THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS also earn a mention.
CHRISTMAS VS. THE ALIENS: The Flux Capacitor offers up a tribute to what they call “the greatest seasonal sci-fi movie ever made” – SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS.
CLASSIC DR. WHO: Illusion TV will plans to air classic episodes of the old BBC series, beginning with TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN.

CyberSurfing 12/18/07

Gliding across the reaches of space and time, occasionally we reach out to snatch a tid-bit or two of news from the depths…
I AM LEGEND CREATURES: Fangoria posts some photos of the prosthetic creatures that were planned before computer-generated imagery took over (to the film’s detriment).
PSYCHOANALYZING STEPHEN SPIELBERG: Film Threat interviews Andrew M. Gordon, whose Empire of Dreams: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Films of Stephen Spielberg offers psychoanalytic insights into films like DUEL and WAR OF THE WORLDS. The most amusing thing about this article is that the interviewer keeps trying to get Gordon to agree to his pet criticisms of Spielberg’s work, but Gordon refuses to play along.
WORLD WAR Z: E-Splatter points us to IESB’s review of the WORLD WAR Z script, penned by J. Michael Staczynski, based on the book by Max Brooks.
ALIEN VS. PREDATOR – REQUIEM: FoxJapan.com has posted an R-rated trailer for the film’s release in Japan, where the title is, apparently, ALIEN VS. PREDATOR 2. The trailer is in English with Japanese subtitles. Some of the footage is from previous trailers, but this one actually makes the film look as if it might be scary.

CyberSurfing 12/17/07

Again, we delve into the primordial ooze of the Internet, searching for pearls of news…
CLOVERFIELD MONSTER REVEALED: Somebody has slowed down the footage from the trailer to provide a brief blurry glimpse of what looks like a large bi-pedal monster striding between buildings.

MASTERS OF HORROR, Season 1, Volume III: DVDTown.com reviews the Blu-ray disc.
GETTIN’ JIGGY WITH WILL: The Deccan Herald interviews Will Smith about I AM LEGEND.
NOBODY KNOWS THE TRIBBLES HE’S SEEN: Science-fiction author David Gerrold talks to the New York Times about being famous for mostly writing the “Trouble with Tribbles” episode of STAR TREK, even though he has numerous other work to his credit, including the novella “The Martian Child,” which inspired the recent film starring John Cusak.
WHO KNOWS IF THE DOCTOR WILL CLOSE THE DOOR ON THE TARDIS: Co-star Catherine Tate hints that David Tennant, the current star of the BBC’s DR. WHO, may leave after the next season.
CAST CHANGES FOR SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES: Garret Dillahutn will take over the role of the cyborg Cromarlie in this TV spin-off of THE TERMINATOR.
GENRE CONQUERORS HOLLYWOOD: TalkingSquid.Net notes that huge success of cinefantastique – not only financially but also critically – and wonders why the literature is still treated like some kind of bastard step-child.
TORCHWOOD: TVSquad recommends this spin-off of DR. WHO. They also like JEKYLL, the BBC’s recent update of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

CyberSurfing 12/15/07

Let’s see what strange messages have been delivered through the ether of the Internet today…
I AM LEGEND’S JUNK SCIENCE includes interviews with several scientists assessing the accuracy of the new film. In a nutshell the depiction of New York reclaimed by nature is not bad; the use of small generators to maintain electricity is possible if a bit unlikely (due to wear and tear); the virus is pretty much nonsense; and all the spans of the Brooklyn Bridge would have collapsed after the air strike took out the center section.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ARTHUR C. CLARKE: The sci-fi writer who co-wrote 2001: A SPACY ODYSSEY turns 90.
PHYSICISTS DO THE MATH ON WAR DRIVE SCIENCE: Apparently, the faster-than-light travel in STAR TREK is at least theoretically possible, according to a new paper by physicists at Baylor University. Still, some pretty massive technical problems remain (such as generating enough power to “create the necessary energies to locally manipulate the extra dimension(s).”
DARIO ARGENTO’S GIALLO: ESplatter.com tracks down word from an Italian newspaper that Argento is hard at work on his next thriller, again starring his daighter Asia Argento.