So the film adaptation of John Le Carre's spy novel TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY will be released on November 18 of this year. I am very excited about this and I've come across a picture of Gary Oldman in character as Le Carre's sometimes protagonist and White Hall operative George Smiley, previously played by Alec Guiness in the 1979 film version of the novel. Also starring: Colin Firth, Tom Hardy (also playing Bane in the upcoming third Nolan Batman film THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS), and Mark Strong. It is directed by Tomas Alfredson, also responsible for the critically acclaimed LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, which I still have not seen! Look for TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY this fall, I know I will be!


Happy birthday Roger Ebert!

I must say that although Ebert is probably the most famous film reviewer of the 20th and now 21st century, his fame is not without merit because he is one of the most insightful and inspiring writers around. Perhaps famous is not the best way of describing Mr. Ebert as it vastly cheapens his contributions to contemporary film writing, but his very public, accessible, and down-to-earth writings have made him celebrated by film lovers of all walks of life. Certainly he is one of the most respected critics. No other name in the business gets a response as well as Ebert's; if he says something is good and interesting, or gives it his patented "thumbs up," it is hard to disagree. Now I don't mean to say that I eat up everything he writes, but rather, for a man who has seen, read about, and written about as many films as he has over the last forty-odd years, I certainly appreciate what he says about films and more often than not, I find little to disagree with views. And despite his own critics, some calling him an elitist snob, I feel like he has earned the right to be as opinionated as he likes through his decades of criticism. He inspires me to think critically, but also to be a critic from both my head and from my heart. Films work on so many levels that sometimes there are things in film that you cannot explain but that you connect with on a very visceral level. Not all foreign art films are good, and not all Hollywood gross-out comedies or action films are bad, and that distinguishing the good for the good, and the bad for the bad is something I have learned from him. Not every film wants to be intellectual and thought-provoking and that is perfectly okay! As long as a film achieves what it wants to be and doesn't take its audience for granted there won't be problems from me.

Ebert's love of cinema is so complete and pure that his passion is so visible in his writings, which is perhaps why reading his work is so easy; it flows so naturally. He is one of those people who has been fortunate enough to find his passion and a way to channel it into a medium and share it with the world. Despite his recent health troubles, he has been more active than ever in the blogging world and is constantly posting and writing new things. To me, he is a true inspiration. Again, I highly recommended this article a few months ago that Esquire wrote about him last year. It is a fascinating glimpse into his life, and I found it to be really interesting. Check out his blog here.



The other night I watched Akira Kurosawa's THE BAD SLEEP WELL and it was terrific! It is a fairly epic tale with Shakespearean familial conflicts combined with post-war corporate corruption and staged within a framework of film noir. So, very interesting! The story follows a young man (Toshiro Mifune) who is avenging his father who was either murdered or compelled to commit suicide by his employers amid some intense multi-billion yen construction corruption. At about 150 minutes it is not a fast paced film, but it is intricately planned and directed by Kurosawa, an absolute master of Japanese cinema. You might recognize the name Toshiro Mifune, as he and Kurosawa had worked together a number of times through the 50s and 60s. I remember Mifune most from Kurosawa's samurai epics SANJURO, YOJIMBO, THE SEVEN SAMURAI, and RASHOMON where he often plays a grizzled ronin, a masterless samurai, who wanders feudal-Japan as a sword for hire. He's often bearded and has long hair in a top-knot, so it was quite a change to see him in Clark Kent-mode in THE BAD SLEEP WELL where he dons a suit, glasses, and nicely combed hair. Anyways, Mifune is fantastic in this. It is not a film for all, but if you are interested in Mifune or Kurosawa, this is a wonderful example of their synergy. Mifune's characterization is so enjoyable to watch as he grapples with his own anger. Kurosawa, meanwhile, carefully composes his shots in his great tableau style and keeps the ranging storyline moving by infusing lots of noir stylings. If any of this interests you, you should check it out! Criterion has an excellent DVD out with a great crisp black and white video transfer. It looks great.

Mifune in SANJURO:



In celebration of the release of Terrence Mallick's sixth film, THE TREE OF LIFE, in his near 30-year career, the Vancity International Film Centre in downtown Vancouver is playing all five of his previous films! Last night I went to see DAYS OF HEAVEN which is a beautiful film starring Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, and Sam Shepard. It is a gorgeously shot film about a young man who, along with his girlfriend and little sister, arrives in Depression-era panhandle of Texas to work on a wheat farm. Upon learning that the young and wealthy landowner that he works for doesn't have long to live, Bill (Richard Gere) convinces his girlfriend Abby (Brooke Adams) to become romantically involved with the farmer so that once he dies they can take over his land and estate. It is a tragic film that captures the desperation and frustration of the era and the widening gap between rich and poor. But most memorably it captures the beauty of the panhandle; the seas of wheat, the long summer evenings, the cold bitter winters, and the ever-present gusting wind. I think it's a great love story and glimpse into the era, and through Mallick's near-documentary filmmaking style it feels like we are there and are permitted to look around and take in the flora and fauna. Worth a view! Also, shot in Alberta, I believe. And from what I remember from the documentary on the DVD, it was shot with mostly available lighting and (I'm sure to the producer's chagrin) during almost exclusively "magic hour," that special time of day around dusk that provides inimatable lighting.


Fun facts gleaned from Rotten Tomatoes

Here is an interesting article that Slate.com has posted about the information it has gleaned from rottentomatoes.com and tells us about "the best, the worst, and most bizarre Hollywood tragectories." Take a look!



Last week I saw this at the Vancity Film Centre and it was really interesting! A documentary, that is part sci-fi and part dream, that explores the ideas behind how to construct a nuclear waste storage facility deep in the frozen bedrock of Northern Finland, and then how to warn future generations to leave it alone. It is not as simple as putting signs up or depending on people in the region to know what is underneath them. Nuclear waste remains toxic for up to 100,000 years, so how will people know 300, 500, or 1000 years from now what is there, and will they even be able to understand our language? Very interesting film by director Michael Madsen.



Directed by David Fincher. Well here is the official trailer for the US English language remake of the hit Swedish book and film series. The trailer leaked onto the internet a few days ago and it kept up being put up and then taken down again by Sony which begs the question, why do they really care? Because now it is up on Youtube anyways! Whatever, here it is, and personally I think it looks pretty cool. Very dark, very quick, it's pretty hard to process any of these shots, and on reflection I don't believe I really even saw Lisbeth Salander clearly. But it is a teaser and it does tease for sure. I read the books and enjoyed them and am intending to watch the Swedish films first but I will definitely see the US version too! Curious to see what Fincher does with them, but realistically he is kind of the obvious director to do such a dark series. Just watch SE7EN, or really any of films to see his style. Have a look at the trailer, which features an awesome cover of Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song" which to me sounds like it was done by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I might be wrong. Pure Fincher!

Weee! I just rewatched it, and UPDATE: this is the Official version which I think is slightly different from the one I saw earlier this week, and yes, in this one you see Salander a bit more. And I love that tagline "The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas." Over the top? yes, but it works. Yay!