Turns out maintaining a presence in the social network only makes life more complex for a film critic. I had to delay my viewing of GODZILLA ’til Sunday, meantime trying to avoid the various hosannas and the occasional nay-say (not to mention Steve Biodrowski’s own in-depth analysis) being splattered all over Facebook, Twitter, etc. An impossible task, actually, and I went into the theater a little anxious over whether what little feedback had filtered through to me was somehow going to skew my reaction, for good or ill.
Happily, I was well pleased with GODZILLA. Not staggered, no, but grateful that director Gareth Edwards managed to pay homage to the history of the franchise while adding some crucial elements to the exercise, elements that I explore in my review for WBAI 99.5FM’s HOUR OF THE WOLF. Click the player to hear what I had to say.
What is reality? What is identity? How long can a soul survive when one’s perceptions and one’s self are subject to electronic editing at a moment’s whim? These and many other fascinating questions are raised and almost immediately dropped in TOTAL RECALL, director Len Wiseman’s retelling of the Philip K. Dick tale of an ordinary working Joe discovering his own secret life courtesy of a recreational brain reprogramming service. The story was previously brought to the screen by Paul Verhoeven, with Arnold Schwarzenegger starring, but does stripping the film of Verhoeven’s camp, satirical outlook and bringing in Colin Farrell as a more credible protagonist automatically mean the scenario regains the challenging, visionary paranoia of the Dick original?
Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons come together to explore thematic opportunities offered and missed in this latest remake, as well as dissecting the appeal of the film’s post-apocalyptic world and evaluating whether the core concept of the Rekall memory implant system makes any sense to begin with. Click on the player to hear the discussion.
Somehow, it seems like it was only a matter of time before director Nicolas Winding Refn hitched his camera to a hurtling piece of American metal and did a full-on car chase film. In DRIVE, Ryan Gosling plays a guy named… wait for it… Driver, a stunt man with a freelance career in piloting getaway cars and dreams of breaking into the racing world. That is, if his dedicated agent (Bryan Cranston) can swing the breaks, and he isn’t waylaid by gangsters Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks or distracted by his beautiful next-door neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her young son. It’s Refn, so moral ambiguities will abound, not to mention some incredibly mounted chases and unrestrained violence. Sum total: Action goodness with both brains and balls. Fine, fine stuff.
And, yes, despite Refn’s heightened aesthetic, DRIVE doesn’t really qualify as genre film, but in the course of our conversation, the director does briefly discuss plans for his remake of LOGAN’S RUN, which will also star Gosling. So there ya go.
Click on the player to hear my interview with Refn.
Break out the Purell, Steven Soderbergh is in mainstream thriller mode and he’s decided to get under your skin — almost literally — with a tale about a virus that doesn’t know when to quit. CONTAGION follows Soderbergh’s TRAFFIC template, spinning a world-spanning drama of people trying to survive the ravages of a fast-acting and deadly disease. Caught up in the turmoil: everyday dad Matt Damon; asshole blogger Jude Law; CDC doctors Jennifer Ehle, Kate Winslet, Demetri Martin, and Marion Cotillard; and government officials Laurence Fishburne, Bryan Cranston, and Enrico Colantoni.
Join Cinefantastique Online’s Lawrence French and Dan Persons as they examine Soderbergh’s skill at applying an indie film’s spontaneous production approach and incisive worldview to the dynamic momentum of a mainstream drama, debate whether the globe-hopping scenario does a disservice to the film’s characters, and consider whether it’s advisable for mature film critics to engage in a little social research by faking coughing fits during screenings (short answer: probably not).
Also: A celebration of the 45th anniversary of STAR TREK’s debut; plus what’s coming this week in theaters (spoiler: nothing) and home video.
According to The Hollywood Reporter,
Bryan Cranston (BREAKING BAD) is in serious talks to play the villain in Columbia’s remake of TOTAL RECALL.
Based on Philip K. Dick’s We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1966, the story was the inspiration for 1990’s TOTAL RECALL, directed byPaul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Colin Farrell is set to play the lead, Douglas Quaid (Quail in the original story) in the remake to be directed by Len Wiseman for Columbia Pictures.
In the 1990 film the storyline used the story’s tale of a man who has memories of being a secret agent on Mars, amping it up to an actual or imagined adventure on Mars.
The remake will forgo any trips to the red planet in favor of a futuristic spy thriller that sets Farrell real or imagined secret agent in New Shanghai against Cranston’s possible role, Vilos Cohaagen, head of the combined nations of Euromerica, intent on an invasion of the smaller country.
Byran Cranston will still get a trip to Mars in Walt Disney Pictures’ Edgar Rice Burroughs-inspired JOHN CARTER OF MARS.