It’s not often an actor gets to redeem an entire species, but that’s what Armin Shimerman did when he took on the role of Quark, the amenable but eminently self-interested Ferengi barkeep of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE. Having been present for the Ferengi’s ignominious debut on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, when a race posited as being the next Klingons eventually devolved into cartoon irrelevancy, Shimerman took the character meant to be DS9’s comic relief and added enough credibility to his motives and depth to his personality that for the first time, a race centered purely on profit seemed not only possible, but actually appealing.
As a demonstration of the depth with which we intend to explore the worlds of science fiction, fantasy, and horror film and TV on our brand-new podcast,THE CFQ INTERVIEW, we probably couldn’t find a better guest than Shimerman. In the span of this extended interview, we discuss not only DS9, but also his work on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and, in a surprising, eye-opening sidetrack, his guest stint on SEINFELD, plus so much more. It’s an hour-plus of insightful talk — click on the player to get it started.
The CW Network has picked up ARROW, a new spin on DC Comics’ Green Arrow character. The show will ignore the previous TV incarnation of the character that appeared for several years on the networks’s SMALLVILLE.
From their press release: ARROW
After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his devoted mother Moira, much-beloved sister Thea, and best friend Tommy welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island.
While Oliver hides the truth about the man he’s become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. Most particularly, he seeks reconciliation with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance.
As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow – a vigilante – to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory.
By day, Oliver plays the role of a wealthy, carefree and careless philanderer he used to be – flanked by his devoted chauffeur/bodyguard, John Diggle – while carefully concealing the secret identity he turns to under cover of darkness. However, Laurel’s father, Detective Quentin Lance, is determined to arrest the vigilante operating in his city.
Meanwhile, Oliver’s own mother, Moira, knows much more about the deadly shipwreck than she has let on – and is more ruthless than he could ever imagine.
The series stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Colin Donnell as Tommy, Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, David Ramsey as John Diggle, Willa Holland as Thea Queen, with Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen and Paul Blackthorne as Detective Quentin Lance.
Based on characters appearing in comic books and graphic novels
published by DC Comics, ARROW is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in
association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television,
with executive producers Greg Berlanti (“Green Lantern,” “Brothers &
Sisters”), Marc Guggenheim (“FlashForward,” “Eli Stone”), Andrew
Kreisberg (“Warehouse 13,” “The Vampire Diaries”) and David Nutter
(“Smallville,” “Supernatural,” “Game of Thrones”). Melissa Kellner
Berman (“Eli Stone,” “Dirty Sexy Money”) is co-executive producer. The
pilot was directed by David Nutter from a teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg
& Marc Guggenheim, story by Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim.
The network is also commisioning a new series based on the 80’s fan favorite BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, though with quite a number of changes, it would appear. Here’s the skinny: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Detective Catherine Chandler is a smart, no-nonsense homicide
detective. When she was a teenager, Catherine witnessed the murder of
her mother at the hands of two gunmen. Catherine would have been killed too, but someone – or something – saved her. No one has ever believed her, but she knows it wasn’t an animal that attacked the assassins…it was human.
Years have passed, and Catherine is a strong, confident, capable police officer, working alongside her equally talented partner, Tess. While investigating a murder, Catherine discovers a clue that leads her to a handsome doctor named Vincent Keller, who was reportedly killed by enemy fire while serving in Afghanistan in 2002. Catherine learns that Vincent is actually still alive and that it was he who saved her many years before.
For mysterious reasons that have forced him to live outside of traditional society, Vincent has been in hiding for the past 10 years to guard his secret – when he is enraged, he becomes a terrifying beast, unable to control his super-strength and heightened senses.
Catherine agrees to protect his identity in return for any insight he may have into hermother’s murder. Thus begins a complex relationship between Catherine and Vincent, who are powerfully drawn to each other yet understand that their connection is extremely dangerous for both of them.
The series stars Kristin Kreuk (“Smallville,” “Chuck”) as Catherine, Jay Ryan (“Terra Nova”) as Vincent, Max Brown (“The Tudors,” “MI-5”) as Evan, Nina Lisandrello (“Nurse Jackie”) as Tess, Nicole Gale Anderson (“Make It or Break It”) as Heather, Austin Basis (“Life Unexpected”) as J.T., and Brian White (“The Shield,” “The Cabinin the Woods”) as Joe.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is from CBS Television Studios with
executive producers Jennifer Levin (“Without A Trace,” “Felicity”),
Sherri Cooper (“Brothers and Sisters”), Bill Haber (“Rizzoli & Isles,”
“Thurgood”), Paul J. Witt (“A Better Life”) & Tony Thomas (“A Better
Life”), Ron Koslow (“Moonlight”) and Gary Fleder (“Life Unexpected”).
Does Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST need to undergo digital conversion to the 3D format in order to lure audiences back into the theater? It shouldn’t, not really. BEAUTY is a certified classic, the first animated film to net a “Best Picture” Oscar nom and the one that re-energized the Disney animation division. To think that it has to go through a “It’s the film you’ve known and loved, back on the big screen where it belongs… now with candy,” process in order to get butts into seats says more about the current theories of film marketing than it does about what was lacking in the movie itself.
Nevertheless, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is back, and Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons have strapped on the 3D goggles to determine whether the film prospers or suffers from the tweaking, as well as discussing whether the film’s stature still holds some twenty years later, and examining how the contributions of the songwriting team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken permanently transformed animated storytelling.
Plus: Steve delivers his capsule judgement on the apocalyptic thriller THE DIVIDE, and the CFQ team discuss their reactions to the animated short TANGLED EVER AFTER. Plus: What’s coming in theaters.
After the excellent Platinum Edition DVD for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, there would seem to be little room for improvement with Walt Disney Home Video’s new Three-Disc Diamond Edition DVD and Blu-ray combo – except for the obvious improved picture quality that come with the new high-def format. Nevertheless, the Diamond Edition manages to one-up its predecessor, establishing itself as the definitive edition for enthusiastic collectors.
The Diamond Edition includes “three” versions of the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: the original theatrical release, the special edition re-release (which restored the previously deleted song “Human Again”), and a picture-in-picture presentation consisting of the film with storyboards viewed in the corner of the frame.
The high-def transfer of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST onto Blu-ray is visually stunning, with amazingly sharp details and beautiful colors. As someone who recently revisited the Platinum Edition DVD to see how my Blu-ray player would upgrade the image for my high-def television, I can say that as good as the old transfer looked, you do not need to be a hawk-eyed techno geek to see the obvious improvement.
The Diamond Edition repackages all of the old DVD bonus features (audio commentary, pencil tests, alternate score for the transformation scene, etc) and combines with them an extensive new making-of bonus feature, the interactive “Beyond Beauty – The Untold Stories.” These features are parceled out over two Blu-ray discs; only some of them are duplicated on the DVD. DISC 1 is the DVD version. It features anew digital restoration of the film, but any improvement in picture quality is not particularly obvious. Still, for those who do not already own the Platinum Edition DVD, this disc is convenient for letting the children have their own copy to play in their rooms or on portable players. The DVD contains the three different versions of the film, plus the old audio commentary. There is also an option to view BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in “Sing Along Mode,” which is consists of subtitles for the songs. DISC 2 contains the high-def transfer of of the new digital restoration of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST onto Blu-ray, also in three versions: original, extended, and picture-in-picture. The Platinum Edition DVD audio commentary is included, along with several new bonus features: a new music video of the title song, an early alternate version of the opening sequence (totally different from the final film), a deleted library scene of Belle conversing with some more enchanted characters. “Composing a Classic” is a very interesting conversation with composer Alan Menken, who discusses his work with lyricist Howard Ashman. And “Broadway Beginnings” takes a brief look at the stage adaptation, featuring interviews with several actors who have performed the musical live (including Donny Osmond, who seems surprised that Disney wanted him to play the barrel-chested Gaston). DISC 3 offers the remaining bonus features on Blu-ray, including games such as “Bonjour, Who is This?” and the “Enchanted Musical Challenge.” The Platinum Edition DVD bonus features are sectioned off into their own category (identified as “Classic DVD Bonus Features”) and presented in standard-def. One result of including old and new features is how clearly the passage of time is marked, with several of the participants looking noticeably younger in the older featurettes.
The highlight of this disc is “Beyond Beauty – The Untold Stories,” which somehow manages to find more to say about the nearly twenty-year-old film. The sentimental highlights, to no surprise, are sequences detailing the contributions of Howard Ashman, who died before the film was completed. More than just a word-smith, Ashman contributed to the story and characterization through his lyrics and offered guidance in terms of casting and vocal performances.
Instead of being formatted as a standard documentary, “Beyond Beauty” is offered in an interactive mode. As segments conclude, viewers are offered the option of pushing a button on their remote control to see additional segments that take off on tangents from the main narrative (i.e., after hearing about Walt Disney’s early silent cartoons, you can choose to watch a selection of them or continue with the making of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST). The format can be frustrating at times: Do I want to continue straight on or take what sounds like an interesting detour? In the end, I pretty much gave up on the interactive element and accessed the Index, which allows viewers to select segments one at a time, more or less like a standard menu.
This brings me to my major complain about the disc – not one of quality but of frustration. The menus are difficult to navigate, with categories containing subcategories containing bonus features of various shapes and sizes. And all of the bonus features are listed on both Blu-ray discs; after navigating your way to what you want to see, you are likely to find yourself being told you have to remove the current disc and replace it with the other.
Apparently aware of this, the Blu-ray discs include a sly joke: the background menu consists of a computer-generated tour of the Beast’s castle, populated by the familiar supporting characters (Mrs. Potts, Cogsworth, etc). As the camera travels from room to room, Lumiere continually prods the viewer to make a selection (“Soon would be good; now would be better.”) This is rather amusing at first, but after awhile it does get slightly annoying; there is no easy way to zero in on what you want, and you are being chastised for browsing at your own pace!
This nitpick aside, the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Diamond Edition 3-disc set is an excellent collector’s item that does justice to what may be Walt Disney Pictures supreme achievement in the field of animation. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST has secured its place in the hearts of millions as a timeless classic. Now this new Blu-ray set should earn a place on your video shelf.
Also coming out on home video this week: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, CAPRICA SEASON 1.0, STARGATE UNIVERS: COMPLETE FIRST SEASON, THE SECRET OF KELLS, GRINDHOUSE SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY, and DOCTOR WHO: DREAMLAND
Tuesday, October 5 is overflowing with horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles of all shapes and sizes arriving on home video in various formats: DVD, Blu-ray, and iTunes downloads. The best of the new releases is SPLICE, which arrives in two versions, DVD and Blu-ray. When it hit theatres earlier this year, Vincenzo Natali’s sci-fi horror opus was a bit misrepresented by its advertising campaign, which suggested a SPECIES-type monster movie. Instead, audiences got a thoughtful science fiction film with an overlay of dark satire.
Also out this week is A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, the unnecessary (and unnecessarily dull) remake of writer-director Wes Craven’s 1984 classic. The new version is slickly made but typically soulless. Somewhat less typically, it is also almost entirely devoid of shocks and suspense. Give this one a pass.
This is one of those rare weeks when classic titles are overwhelming new releases, thanks to some deluxe editions that surpass and eclipse previous home video versions. Horror fans disappointed by the ELM STREET remake can take solace in Warner Brothers Home Video release a two-disc Blu-ray of THE EXORCIST (1973), which includes the original theatrical cut and the so-called “Extended Director’s Cut,” plus three new documentaries. The film is also being made available for download via iTunes for the first time. The extended cut is just a new name for the 2000 theatrical re-issue of the film, which at the time was dubbed “The Version You ‘ve Never Seen” – a sobriquet that hardly makes sense ten years later. Even if (like me) you have previously purchased both versions of the film on DVD (including the excellent 25th anniversary edition), you will find much worth viewing on this disc, thanks to previously unreleased behind-the-scenes footage that provides an amazing glimpse at the making of this horror classic.
If your tastes run more toward fairy tale fantasy, you are in luck: Walt Disney Home Video is releasing a 3-disc Diamond Edition of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, their 1991 Oscar-nominated blockbuster, which has been unavailable in any form since 2003. (This combo pack will be followed seven weeks later by a 2-Disc standard definition DVD on November 23.) The 3-disc set includes one DVD and two Blu-rays. The DVD features an all-new digital restoration, three versions of the film, sing-along mode (with subtitles for the lyrics), and an audio commentary. The first Blu-ray disc includes the DVD bonus features and the three versions of the film (in high-def, of course), plus more extras, including previously unseen alternate opening and a deleted scene. The second Blu-ray disc offers the bonus features from the old Platinum Edition DVD, plus some new Blu-ray extras, including “Beyond Beauty – The Untold Stories,” “Enchanted Musical Challenge Game,” and “Bonjour, Who is This” – a game in which you use your phone to receive secret messages and guess players’ identities before they guess yours. In a move no one could ever have expected, the abysmal TROLL 2 receives a Blu-ray release this week; the format seems altogether too refined by the cheezy little movie, which has gained some cult notoriety this year, thanks to the art house release of BEST WORST MOVIE, the documentary tracing the lives and reunion of some of the TROLL 2 cast members.
MGM Home Video offers the MGM Sci-Fi Movie Collection. Unfortunately, the company’s 1956 classic FORBIDDEN PLANET is nowhere to be seen. Instead, we get one (WAR GAMES) and a bunch of forgettable duds (SOLAR BABIES, ALIEN FROM L.A. with Kathy Ireland, HACKERS with a young Angelina Jolie film, SPACE CAMP, and a WAR GAMES sequel). Apparently, bargain days have arrived this week, with several previous available titles re-released in two-packs: GROUNDHOG DAY and SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER, HANCOCK and GHOST RIDER, THE GRUDGE and SILENT HILL, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA and WOLF, FANTASTIC FOUR and X-MEN, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and I ROBOT, plus several others.
But wait, there’s more! Also on store shelves this week:
CAPRICA: SEASON 1.0 on DVD
SGU: STARGATE UNIVERS – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON on DVD and Blu-ray
THE SECRET OF KELLS on DVD and Blu-ray
GRINDHOUSE two-disc collector’s edition on Blu-ray
THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE COLLECTION on DVD
DOCTOR WHO: DREAMLAND on DVD
DELGO on DVD and two-disc Blu-ray and DVD combo
THE EVIL/TWICE DEAD, a two-pack of Roger Corman Cult Classics
FINGERPRINTS on Blu-ray
THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS, a deluxe edition
SISTERS on Blu-ray (no not the Brian DePalma original but an unnecessary remake)
And the list goes on and on… All are available in the Cinefantastique Online Store. Click the links below to check them out, or go here.
Here’s the latest trailer for HBO’s GAME OF THRONES, based on the first novel in SF/Fantasy author George R.R. Martins’s (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, TV) fantasy epic book series A Song of Ice and Fire.
This teaser is entitled “Raven”, for reasons that should be immediately apparent.
The cast of the sprawling adult- oriented sword and sorcery saga includes Mark Addy (THE TIME MACHINE, 2002), Alfie Allen, Sean Bean (THE LORD OF THE RINGS), Ciaran Bermingham, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage(UNDERDOG), Roy Dotrice(BEAUTY & THE BEAST), Michelle Fairley, Jack Gleeson, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Lena Headey (THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES), Rory McCann, and Jason Momoa (STARGATE ATLANTIS),
The pilot was directed by Thomas McCarthy (‘2012’) and is expected to air in spring of 2011.
CBS Films pushed back the release of this modern variation on the old “Beauty and the Beast” tale, which was originally scheduled for July 30, 2010. Alex Pettyfer, Mary-Kate Olsen, Neil Patrick Harris, and Lisa Gay Hamilton star for director Daniel Barnz, who adapted the screenplay from the novel by Alex Finn. Pettyfer plays a young, self-absorbed millionaire, whose selfish ways go wrong when a classmate (Olsen) casts a spell that turns him into a beast; the only hope of returning to normal is to find a woman who will love him despite his new appearance. It all sounds a bit sophomoric, like another attempt to cash in on the young girls who buy tickets to TWILIGHT movies.
Cahiers du Cinema has published its list of the 100 greatest films, and we finally get one of these rankings that actually makes some kind of sense!
Obviously, all of these lists must be taken with a grain of salt, beginning with the now obligatory number one spot always going to Citizen Kane, although many people (including myself) would argue Kane is NOT Orson Welles best film.
However, Cahiers number two choice proves to be much more adventuresome, as Charles Laughton’s poetic thriller The Night of the Hunter rarely turns up on lists of this kind.
In fact, given the totally absurd choices and omissions on display in the lists offered up by such dubious chroniclers of film taste as The American Film Institute, Entertainment Weekly and Empire Magazine, the Cahiers list offers a refreshing counter-balance from those organizations choices which are usually biased towards commercial success. Actually, it’s hard to blame them, since their audiences have probably never heard of directors like Robert Bresson or Kenji Mizoguchi, much less seen any of their films, but given that fact, their lists should be called “The 100 best commercial films,” not the “best movies of all time.”
From the Cahiers list of 100, here are the ten films with a background in the “Cinefantastique.” While you can disagree about certain key films that didn’t make the list – such as James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein – I’d have to say overall it’s an extremely well-balanced selection, and there is little doubt the films listed below are all worthy of being called “great movies.”
1. M (Fritz Lang)
2. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
3. Nosferatu the Vampire (F. W. Murnau)
4. Ugetsu Monogatari (Kenji Mizoguchi)
5. Freaks (Tod Browning)
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)
7. La Jetée (Chris Marker)
8. Beauty and the Beast (Jean Cocteau)
9. King Kong (Ernst Shoedsack & Merian C. Cooper)
10. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)
One of the nice things about living in Hollywood is that, even in the era of home video, there are still plenty of opportunitiies to see classic movies on the big screen. The latest example of this is the American Film Institute’s upcoming 40th anniversary celebration, during which eleven great movies will screen on a single night. Festivals of this type typically overlook genre films, but that is not the case here; horror, fantasy, and science fiction are all represented, thanks to the presence of THE BIRDS (1963), BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1990), and STAR WARS (1977).
As an extra added enticement, each screening will have a guest introduce the film: actress Tippi Hedren for THE BIRDS, actress Angela Lansbury for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and director George Lucas for STAR WARS.
The screening takes place on October 3 at 7:00pm in the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood. Tickets are $25, available at the ArcLight box office at AFI.com, beginning Wednesday.
UPDATE: Speaking of the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood (www.arclightcinemas.com), Victor Crowley himself – that is to say, actor-stuntman Kane Hodder, who plays the unstoppable villain, will appear at the Friday 10:00pm screening of HATCHET at the theatre. Writer-director Adam Green will be there, along with actress Tamara Feldman, who plays the gun-toting Mary Beth. Last Friday’s special screening (with Green and other members of the cast and crew) sold out, so you might want to buy tickets ASAP if you’re interested in attending. Click here if you want to read Adam Green’s announcement of the screening.