A “Peeping Tom” returns

This is not the first time I’ve posted about the great thriller Michael Powell made with writer and famed WWII cryptographer Leo Marks. Released the very same year as “Psycho,” “Peeping Tom” was also about a serial killer, but was much more stylized and shot in eye-filling Eastmancolor. It featured, I believe, not a single drop of onscreen blood. Yet, it more or less permanently disabled the career of one of the greatest directors of all time.

Below the often thoughtful but highly tendentious BBC film critic, Mark Kermode, is on his absolute best behavior as he provides terrific interviews with Powell’s widow, famed film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and her boss/colleague and #1 Powell fan and friend, Martin Scorsese, as they try to explain just what made, and makes, “Peeping Tom” so powerful and relevant today.

The irony of the completely opposite post-serial-killer movie fates of Alfred Hitchcock and Powell, who were of roughly the same generation and peers in the English film industry at one point, never fails to stun me. I’m also endlessly impressed by the fact that there was a time and a place where movie critics could not only destroy a film, they could end a career. I wonder how “Peeping Tom” would have been received if it came out in North America first.

You can see the even more excellent complete 22 minute interview with Martin Scorsese over at The Guardian which, among other topics includes some discussion of the upcoming “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” and Scorsese’s thoughts on shooting the film in 3D. As for, “Peeping Tom,” let’s hope, that restoration hits the States before too long.

  

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A trailer double bill: “The Black Swan” and “The Red Shoes” and some movie news too, I guess (updated)

I’m miles from home, I’ve left my mouse at home, and the barristas where I am are annoying while talking about movies, which is extra annoying to me. Can’t they talk annoyingly about sports instead? Why am I here? I got here early to beat the traffic and am across the street from the New Beverly Theater where I’ll be frittering hours away doing something unspeaking geeky on the occasion of the birthday of a fellow film geek blogger.

So, there’s no time for discuss the more interesting than usual casting news that Idris Elba will be taking over the role of James Patterson’s Alex Cross in the upcoming series reboot, that January Jones will try something different from tantalizing and annoying “Mad Men” viewers as Betty Draper and will be taking over the role of Emma Frost in “X-Men: First Class” or that Noomi Rapace, who originated the role of Lisbeth Salender in the Swedish “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is about to be heavily promoted for an Oscar nomination and may be taking on some blockbuster roles in big time American flicks, except that I just did. Instead, I’m presenting the really terrific — and outstandingly creepy — trailer for “The Black Swan” which seems destined for the title of most unnerving ballet film of all time, which I guess is just what we should expect from Darren Aronofsky after all this time. 13 year-old Chloe Moretz has already endorsed it in my recent interview with her. [UPDATE: Anne Thompson has thrown some very cold water over the Nikki Finke/Noomi Rapace story. I’m sure readers of both blogs may be seeing more about this one.]

I think I’ve presented it before here, but what the heck, after the flip is the trailer for the rather strange and very ravishing classic film Aronofsky pretty much had to have been thinking about as he made his film. I hope Mr. Scorsese, whose directing her “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” guides young Ms. Moretz to “The Red Shoes” — I can’t imagine he wouldn’t, seeing as he’s said it’s his favorite movie.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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A “Hit-Girl” in training

Coming soon over at Bullz-Eye.com will be an interview with me and the extremely talented Chloe Moretz. At 13, she’s going to be everywhere next year with parts in, among other films, “Let Me In” and Martin Scorsese‘s 3-D opus, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.”

I finally had a chance/excuse to catch up with the film that really put her on the map, “Kick-Ass,” just a few days ago, just before it ended it’s run at my local $2.50 movie theater. (They still exist in the less fashionable reaches of Orange County, CA.) I have to say while I could quibble with its morality — not so much the idea of a little girl killing crooks willy-nilly, but anyone killing crooks willy-nilly — I found it as entertaining as heck and I have very little clue why it wasn’t a bigger hit.

Still, entertainment is very hard work and this kind of  martial-arts oriented action filmmaking is probably some of the most labor intensive there is. This clip from the upcoming Blu-ray release shows a small part of how young Ms. Moretz went from being just another highly skilled young actress to one of the more effective movie mayhem delivery systems we’ve seen.

H/t The HD Room.

  

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Dial 3 for 3-D, or something

The news that Martin Scorsese will, as previously hinted, be filming “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” in 3-D could be cynically interpreted as simply a case of an artistic but shrewd director jumping on a popular bandwagon. However, I’m not really a cynic and to me it brings to mind the last time that a truly great director made a film in 3-D. With all due respect to James Cameron and his undoubted huge technical achievement with “Avatar,” that was when Alfred Hitchcock took up the huge challenge of shooting in three dimensions with 1954’s “Dial M for Murder.”

The trailer below doesn’t mention the process because, despite the enormous trouble taken to film it in three dimensions, by the time the thriller, an adaptation of a wildly successful play, came out interest was already waning in the process — probably largely due to sub-standard films generated by the 3-D fad (modern day executives take note). Therefore, “Dial M for Murder” was, for the most part, released “flat.” Nevertheless, check out the way Hitchcock uses the (extremely huge) camera and the care he takes with the art direction.

If that phone seems a bit odd to you, it’s because Hitchcock actually had, as per this TCM synopsis by Jeff Stafford, a giant dial constructed to get the exaggerated look he wanted. Mr. Hitchcock was prone to exaggeration and a perfectionist, but one who always had a reason. For example, here’s his note about the portrayal of the film’s main weapon:

This is nicely done but there wasn’t enough gleam to the scissors, and a murder without gleaming scissors is like asparagus without the hollandaise sauce – tasteless.

Someone has probably already said this, but Hitchcock wasn’t always tasteful, but he was never tasteless, if you follow me.

  

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Monday movie news

Just a few items on a warm and sunny SoCal Ides of March…

* David Fincher is really keeping busy. I missed the story late Friday about him putting together a new movie iteration of “Heavy Metal.”

The first attempt to transpose the appeal of the legendary European-based anthology comic magazine is pretty much unwatchable these days — I know because I tried and failed to watch it at Comicon a couple of years back — but that’s all the more reason to give it another try I suppose. Considering that the late seventies and early eighties were pretty much the lowpoint of animation and the high end nature of this project, it pretty much has to be an improvement on most levels.

And that’s not all. Having taken on Facebook with Aaron Sorkin, another upcoming project may possibly involve an equally cinematic undertaking: chess.

fromrwl3

* With John Krasinski apparently out of the running for “The First Avenger: Captain America” (a title I’m not fond of, by the way), the Marvel gang has apparently adopted a “nobody excessively interesting” rule in its prospective casting. The latest name being floated: Ryan Phillipe. Still, he played effectively off of Chris Cooper in the highly underrated “Breach,” one of my favorite films of 2007, so perhaps he can do the same with Hugo Weaving here.

* Ben Kingsley and Sacha Baron Cohen are “in talks” to appear in Martin Scorsese’s ambitious, 3-D, meta-film, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.”  As a Deadline commenter notes, this one appears to be DiCaprio-free, at last. Kingsley and Coehn could make an interesting buddy film.

* Tim Adler of Deadline|London thinks that the success of 3-D screenings of “Avatar” in Europe is funding the growth of digital movie theaters in Europe.

* I’ve said it before, but the career of director David Gordon Green fascinates me. He starts out like an American Vittorio De Sica by way of Terrence Malick with the neo-neo realist “George Washington,” and then transitions to stoner-frat comedies apparently spoofing eighties sword and sorcery flicks. Attention must be paid.

* If you really wanna know more about “penis trauma” and the MPAA ratings system

* Phrases like “penis trauma” aside, SXSW really does sound like the most fun of the festivals, doesn’t it?

  

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