It’s time for another trip into the depths of the Black Hole – the Black Hole Ultra Lounge Podcast, that is, this time brought to you with all the excitement of D-Box motion simulation. So strap yourself in and get ready for a bumpy ride as Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski ruminate on the philosophical questions plaguing sophisticated aficionados of horror, fantasy, and science fiction cinema. To wit: How high a batting average does a genre filmmaker need to maintain in order to be considered a power hitter? Are the twin titanic terrors of of type-casting and sequels to blame for career slumps of otherwise stellar talents? Is the D-Box motion-simulator chair the only way to truly enjoy INCEPTION? Does the premise of J.J. Abrams’ SUPER-8 (kids filming a movie encounter real-life monsters) suggest a pint-sized version of George A. Romero’s DIARY OF THE DEAD?
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers offically announced that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard have joined the cast of Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.
The studio called the film the “conclusion of the Dark Knight legend”, again confirming that this will be the last in this particular series of Batman films.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play the role of Gotham City patrolman John Blake, chosen by Commisioner Gordon for a special assignment. Fans had speculated that Gordon-Levitt might portray one of the comic book’s incomic villains, but this appears not to be the case. Marion Cotillard’s role will be Miranda Tate, a member of the Wayne Enterprises board, who apparently wants to help Bruce Wayne take up the civic and philanthropic activities his murdered parents were once known to pursue.
This week’s Cinefantastique Round Table offers a black hole full of news, as Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski discuss the wisdom of casting Henry Cavill as the new Superman in Zack Snyder’s upcoming reboot and the retooling of WONDER WOMAN for a proposed television series as a modern woman balancing career and work. Also on the agenda: a capsule review of KA-BOOM, writer-director Gregg Araki’s new science fiction film, and a trio of opinions on the Academy Awards nominations – has horror, fantasy, and science fiction been well represented this year by INCEPTION and BLACK SWAN, or have worthy films once again been overlooked because of their genre connection? Listen in and find out.
Christmas is coming: time to start shopping for the cinefantastique fan in your life. What sort of horror horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles are available to stuff into stockings with care? Well, December 7’s big home video release is Christopher Nolan’s science fiction blockbuster INCEPTION, which is available to rent or own via Video on Demand and also for purchase as a single-disc DVD or in a 3-disc Blu-ray and DVD combo pack. The film itself is overblown and not nearly as satisfying as Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT, but the visuals are technically impressive, and film fans should be interested in all the behind the scenes featurettes.
Both the DVD and the Blu-ray offer the 148-minute theatrical cut of the film. The single-disc DVD offers a handful of bonus features, under the banner “Extraction Mode,” which focus on such topics as The Inception of Inception, The Japanese Castle: The Dream is Collapsing, Constructing Paradoxical Architecture, and The Freight Train. The Blu-ray disc offers all of these plus: Ambush on the City Streets, The Tilting Bar, The Rotating Corridor, The Mountain Fortress, Simulating Zero-G, Limbo: The Look of Unconstructed Dream Space, The Fortress Explosion, The Music of Dreams, The Dream-Share.
In addition, the 3-disc set contains a second Blu-ray disc, featuring even more bonus material:
Dreams: Cinema of the Subconscious
Inception: The Cobol Job
Digital Motion Comic
5.1 Inception Soundtrack (39 minutes, 10 tracks)
Conceptual Art Gallery
Promotional Art Archive
Inception Theatrical Trailers And Select Theatrical TV Spots
Project Somnacin: Confidential Files
The week’s other major new home video release in the realm of horror, fantasy, and/or science fiction is SHREK FOREVER AFTER, the rather desperate attempt by DreamWorks to squeeze another sequel out of the moribund SHREK franchise. The films is available for purchase (not for rent) via Video on Demand; it is also available as a single-disc DVD and a two-disc Blu-ray and DVD combo. Additionally, the film has been wrapped in a “Holiday Double DVD Pack” with the direct-to-video spin-off, DONKEY’S CHRISTMAS SHREKTACULAR. And of course there is the inevitable box set, available in both DVD and Blu-ray format: SHREK: THE WHOLE STORY gathers together all four SHREK films.
If the new stuff leaves you feeling unsatisfied, fear not. The Criterion Collection steps into the breach, offering another of their always superior presentations, in this case a director-approved edition of David Cronenberg’s VIDEODROME on Blu-ray. Features include:
High-definition digital transfer of the unrated version (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack)
Two audio commentaries: David Cronenberg and director of photography Mark Irwin, and actors James Woods and Deborah Harry
Camera (2000), a short film starring Videodrome’s Les Carlson, written and directed by Cronenberg
Forging the New Flesh, a new half-hour documentary featurette by filmmaker Michael Lennick about the creation of Videodrome’s video and prosthetic makeup effects
Effects Men, a new audio interview with special makeup effects creator Baker and video effects supervisor Lennick
Bootleg Video: the complete footage of Samurai Dreams and seven minutes of transmissions from “Videodrome,” presented in their original, unedited form with filmmaker commentary
Fear on Film, a 26-minute roundtable discussion from 1982 between filmmakers Cronenberg, John Carpenter, John Landis, and Mick Garris
Original theatrical trailers and promotional featurette
Stills galleries featuring hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes production photos, special effects makeup tests, and publicity photos
A booklet featuring essays by writers Carrie Rickey, Tim Lucas, and Gary Indiana
As for the rest of the weeks DVD and Blu-ray releases, December 7 offers a special edition DVD of COWBOY BEBOP: THE MOVIE; a new Blu-ray disc of SHORT CIRCUIT 2, the disappointing sequel to SHORT CIRCUIT; re-issues of JOHNNY MNEMONIC and IDLE HANDS on Blu-ray; and a DVDTee package of Roger Corman’s THE WASP WOMAN (you get not only a DVD of the film but also a t-shirt with the outrageous poster art emblazoned on the front, in either larger or extra large).
As always, all of these items are available in the Cinefantastique Online Store. If you want to help keep a Sense of Wonder alive on the internet, please consider making a purchase.
It’s a special Labor Day edition of the Cinefantastique Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction podcast. Eschewing the usual round-up of news and reviews, Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski provide their assessment on the best and worst that this summer had to offer. What tops the list: SPLICE, INCEPTION, PREDATORS, or IRON MAN 2? And what lies at the bottom of the barrel: JONAH HEX, PIRANHA 3D, THE LAST AIRBENDER, or FURRY VENGEANCE? Also explored are such riveting questions as: What film is most likely to forget its own title? Which actor took on the most challenging script? What was the worst pro-ecology movie?
Following up on this week’s Cinefantastique Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction Podcast, which covered CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE, the Cinefantastique Post-Mortem Podcast examines the weekend’s other major fantasy film release, CHARLIE ST. CLOUD, starring Zac Efron as a young man who sees dead people – in particular, his younger brother. Also on the menu: listener mail takes Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski to task for being too critical of INCEPTION in Podcast 1:23.
In the latest weekly installment of CFQ’s Post-Mortem Podcast, Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski offer a free-form follow-up to this Cinefantastique Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction Podcast, including further in-depth insights on the dreamscape of Christopher Nolan’s INCEPTION and a look at the big-budget disappointment, THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE, starring Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel, and loosely inspired by the Mickey Mouse episode of Walt Disney Pictures’ FANTASIA (1940).
Not too surprisingly, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror films were the biggest grossing Summer box office films this weekend.
Christopher Nolan’s INCEPTION hit bigger than expected, with a $60.4 million debut. Let’s see if the challenging SF film has legs.
Universal’s winning animated SF-inspired comedy DESPICABLE ME took in another $32.7 million, bringing it’s total to over 118 million dollars thus far.
THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE came in third place for Walt Disney Pictures, with just over $17 million in its second week, bringing the domestic total to about $24,500, 000 — considerably less than the studio expected, I suspect.
Teen/Tween favorite THE TWILGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE continues to draw respectable business, with another $13.5 million, bringing it’s domestic take to just under $265 million.
Pixar’s well-received TOY STORY 3 came in fifth, with 11.5 million, earning over $362 million in 4 and a half weeks, domestically. It’s made $630,209,000 world-wide. Figures from BoxOfficeMojo.com
Dream a little dream with the 23rd episode of the Cinefantastique Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction Podcast, as Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski analyze INCEPTION. Is Christopher Nolan’s multi-leveled special effects extravaganza, about invading other people’s dreams to steal or plant ideas, the thinking person’s action-packed blockbuster? Or is this dream one in which (to paraphrase Freud) an exploding car is just an exploding car? Find out, along with the usual recap of weekly news, upcoming events, and home video releases.
As I’ve suggested here for the last two years, limiting the Academy Award for “Best Visual Effects” to only three nominees seems quite unfair, since all the other categories (except make-up) have five nominees. Given the overwhelming number of films that feature superlative effects work these days, it has become increasingly obvious that this is a change that has been long overdue. Last May, the Visual Effects branch finally acted, when their three Governors (Richard Edlund, Craig Barron and Bill Taylor) chaired a meeting and recommended that the change be made to five nominees. According to an article on the meeting in Variety by David S. Cohen, the change actually met with some heated resistance from Academy members.
The two main objections cited in the Variety article were that four additional names (for each of the two additional films nominated) would have to be read on the Oscar show, and that if five movies were nominated, the final award might not go to “cutting-edge” effects work. Such objections seem silly at best, and luckily wiser heads prevailed, so this years award for “Best Visual Effects” will indeed feature five contenders for the first time since 1979 when ALIEN won the final prize.
Since we are still only seven months into the year and there are already more than five worthy nominees, (among them: INCEPTION, IRON MAN 2, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE, ROBIN HOOD, CLASH OF THE TITANS and even THE LAST AIRBENDER), this is obviously a change for the better. Likewise, last year several worthy films, such as 2012 and TERMINATOR SALVATION failed to make the cut because there were only three slots available.
The Academy explained the change in their official press release: “Since 1963, when the Special Effects award was discontinued and new separate categories for achievements in visual effects and sound effects were established, the only period during which it was possible to have five visual effects nominees was 1977 through 1979. In only one of those years (1979) were five achievements actually recognized. Between 1980 and 1995, two or three productions could be nominated; since 1996 the rules have dictated there be exactly three nominees.”