Archive | Foreign Film

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Weekend Read: Ferris Bueller’s Anniversary, 3D Losing Its Charm, Hong Kong Girls With Guns, Rondo Hatton And More

Posted on 05 June 2015 by Rich Drees

A roundup of some worth while film stories you should be reading.

Take Ferris Out To The Ball Game: If you think that movie fans can be obsessive, then you probably don’t know many sports fans. And when the two intersect in one person… Well, you get someone like Larry Granillo, who looked at the meager clues available in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and managed to figure out what Chicago Cubs game Ferris, Cameron and Sloan took in during their famous day of skipping school. It was the June 5, 1985 matchup between the Cubs and the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. That’s right, 30 years ago today. You can read about over at For The Win.

3Dead: Kyle Smith of the NY Post may not being bringing new to the complaints about 3D films, i.e., the terrible, murky-looking upconversions of films not shot in native 3D, the glasses, the extra expense at the box office. But he does verbalize something I’ve been hearing at screenings I’ve been to and from among the general movie-going public. The 3D process is loosing its appeal fairly rapidly. Smith almost seems to hint that there may be a corollary between the film’s quality as a film and how successful it is as a 3D movie at the box office, but doesn’t quite get there. Further exploration for another day.

yes-madam-michelle-yeohLadies, Locked And Loaded: Pound-for-pound, Grady Hendrix is probably the best writer about Asian genre cinema, and his latest piece for Film Comment is no exception. Focusing on the subgenre of “girls with guns” that flourished briefly from the mid-1980s to the mid-90s, Grady explains how these films feature ” international casts, exotic locations, lots of Uzis, a jackhammer pace, at least one fight on a construction site, some of the most synth-tastic scores of the Eighties, and many, many questionable hairstyles” and “don’t just pass the Bechdel Test, they destroyed it.” As usual with one his pieces like this, you will probably want to have your Netflix account open while you read it, adding a number of films to your queue.

A Composer In A Galaxy Far, Far Away: If you’re excited about the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens but you’re trying to remain spoiler free, this short Vanity Fair interview with composer John Williams might fit the bill for you. He talks about how he is approaching writing the music for the newest installment of the franchise his perhaps best known for without giving any actual story secrets away.

Bizarre Boy Bubby:The Australian Centre For The Moving Image asks if there is an Australian film weirder than writer/director Rolf de Heer’s 1992 feature Bad Boy Bubby? Our answer – probably not, at least until they decide to make a Danger 5 movie.

rondo-hattonAnd finally: A holdover from the Memorial Day weekend, this local news story from Tamp FL, looks at the annual commemoration ceremony at the only veteran’s cemetery in the county and mentions its perhaps most famous interee, the 1930s and 40s horror movie icon Rondo Hatton. A veteran of World War One, he found fame in films after acromegaly began to distort his facial features. (Not the result of a mustard gas attack as was thought at the time.)

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Posted on 31 May 2013 by Rich Drees


Among the many gems on anime director Hayao Miyazaki’s resume is his 1989 adaptation of Eiko Kadono’s children’s novel about an young witch setting up her own business as part of her studies, Kiki’s Delivery Service.

The book is being adapted again, this time into a live action film from director Takashi Shimizu. Now the man who helped launch the J-horror cycle of films of the last decade with Ju-On and it’s American remake The Grudge may seem like an odd choice to bring a series of children’s books to life, but the first picture released from the production below (from Eiga via Bleeding Cool) looks promising. It features star Shoshiba Fuka in character on one of the film’s sets. I like the bright, primary colors featured in the photo and they remind me a bit of the production design of Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy.


The film is set for release in Japan next spring, and there has been no word yet as to distribution in the United States. Not that that’s ever stopped a film from being seen.

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Japanese RING Franchise Going 3D

Posted on 17 February 2011 by Rich Drees

Don’t think that it’s just Hollywood studios who think that 3D is a way to add to a film’s box office take. Japanese studios are are starting to think that way too.

It has been announced that a new installment of the horror franchise Ringu, remade as The Ring series by Hollywood, will be given the 3D treatment. It will be titled Sadako 3D, after the villain of the franchise. There has been no word on any cast or crew having been hired for the film yet.

Based on a Japanese novel by Koji Suzuki, Ringu centered on a cursed video tape that, after being watched, will cause the viewer to die within a week. A huge hit for director Hideo Nakata, the film spawned two Japanese sequels and a prequel and a Korean remake in addition to the American remake and a sequel. It is also responsible for sparking a wave of creepy, atmospheric horror films in Japan and a wave of  slightly watered-down, not as good English language remakes from Hollywood. Nakata would go on to direct the first Ringu sequel as well and the English language The Ring 2 as well as the original Japanese version of Dark Water.

Given that some of the original film’s creepiest imagery centers on Sadako crawling out of a television picture into the real world, a 3D version of the story certainly seems like a natural idea. I have to admit that after a while I had gotten a bit burned out on the J-horror cycle and even more quickly burned out on the cycle of sub-standard English remakes. But I think enough time has passed that anyone who felt likewise might be willing to give a new film like this a chance. The only problem is that I don’t really see this getting a big theatrical distribution in the United States, so only a fraction of fans of the Japanese franchise might get to see it on the big screen.

Last April, Paramount announced plans to create a 3D installment for the English Ring franchise though there has been no further news on the project.

Via Bleeding Cool.

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First Look: Tsui Hark And Jet Li’s 3D FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON INN

Posted on 08 January 2011 by Rich Drees

That Tsui Hark, one of a small number of truly gifted visual directors, is working on a 3D film is certainly good news. That it is a remake of 1992’s Dragon Inn and will star Jet Li and feature action choreography by Yuen Bun is just icing on the cake.

And it sounds as if all involved are putting some thought into how they will be shooting this wushu extravaganza in 3D. In a recent interview pointed out by Bleeding Cool, Hark stated-

There are three major criteria pertaining to wushu choreography, the exquisiteness and difficulty level of the moves, the set up as a whole, and how to use film to show the characteristics and principles behind wushu. 3D brings about a whole new visual experience, and would ultimately result in actions designed originally for 2D filming losing impact, so, we can’t simply import these three points based on traditional ways of filming, but have to come up with actions that are most suitable for 3D showcase.

Bun elaborated-

The sublime state in swordplay only exists in legends, for it’s hard to reach such a perfect swordplay level, only very, very few can accomplish it. As Jet Li is the one using sword this time around, we are able to go out all in designing some even more demanding, new-wave swordplay, and given his experience and calibre, he would definitely not let us down.

Flying Swords Of Dragon Inn is just finishing up filming. Unfortunately there seems to be no US distribution in place yet.

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France’s Number One Comic Book Film

Posted on 28 April 2010 by Rich Drees

With both The Losers and Kick-Ass under-performing at the US box office, it’s nice to know that a comic book film is doing well elsewhere in the world. In France, the number one movie two weeks ago was director Luc Besson’s Les aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec aka The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec. Knocking the much bigger budgeted Clash Of The Titans form its top of the box office perch, the film earned $4.6 million (US), a pretty impressive figure given that France’s population is one-sixth the size of the US and ticket prices are lower there than they are here.

Set in pre-World War One France, Eurpoean audiences have been thrilling to comics creator Jacques Tardi’s tales of the adventures of the feisty female reporter who finds herself drawn in to stories that have a mystical or fantastical bent since 1972. While I’ve not read any of the series, and some of it was translated in to English in the early 1990s, the trailer for the film below

Unfortunately, there is currently no distribution deal in place to get the film to US audiences.

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RING Sequel Comin’ At Ya In 3D

Posted on 27 April 2010 by Rich Drees

The 3D juggernaut continues to roll on, fueled by studio execs with dollar signs in their eyes.

The latest film to be getting the treatment is The Ring 3D, a second sequel to the 2002 English adaptation of the 1998 Japanese film about a cursed video tape that kills anyone who views it within a week. Although I found the original Japanese version a better film than the Naomi Watts-starring Hollywood version, but it managed to thrill audiences to the tune of $129 million at the box office. That kind of money sparked a wave of English-language remakes of Japanese horror films, most of them substandard to their foreign originals. Although its 2005 sequel, The Ring Two, managed to still pull a respectable $76 million in ticket sales, the wave had burnt itself out and no one has really been clamoring too loudly for a third Ring movie in the intervening years.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film’s storyline is still being kept secret but will “reinvent the franchise” and be “more teen-centric than the first.” Dream House writer David Loucka has been hired to script the film.

And while audiences may or may not have moved on from the Ring films, technology certainly has. Video tape is disappearing fairly fast from American’s homes as the medium of choice for recording television programs and home movies in favor of DVRs and other digital mediums. I have to wonder if the idea of a cursed video tape will not seem anything but quaint in this upcoming movie.

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More Crazy Tony Jaa Action In ONG BAK 3 Trailer

Posted on 02 February 2010 by Rich Drees

Martial arts actor extraordinaire Tony Jaa’s latest film Ong Bak 2 is hitting DVD and Blu-ray today, but there’s already an Ong Bak 3 ready to hit theaters in Asia later this year.The film will surve as a direct sequel to Ong Bak 2 and as a prequel to the original Ong Bak.

Not surprisingly, the trailer is filled with more intense and interesting action in its one minute and 24 second length than most full-length features. I love me some Tony Jaa action, and the thing with the elephant is just flat out crazy cool.

No word yet when or if the film will be picked up for US distribution, but since Jaa already has a growing fan base thanks to the first two Ong Bak films and The Protector, I don’t expect we’ll be waiting long to find out.

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Posted on 07 January 2010 by Rich Drees

With the middle installment of Korean director Chan-Park Wook’s thematic “Vengeance Trilogy”, Oldboy, seeming to get all the attention, I find that the first film of the three, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance, to be an under-rated classic in its own right. And now, it has become the latest film from the director to be targeted for an American remake.

Warner Brothers has picked up the rights to remake the film and have hired Brian Tucker to pen an English language version of the film, according to Screen Daily.

I first saw Sympathy For Mr Vengeance at a film festival in 2003 when it was making the US film festival rounds and was impressed with its powerful story of two men locked into a cycle of murderous revenge. Oldboy and the Vengeance Trilogy’s third installment, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance may be stronger films visually, butI think this version remains the strongest of the three thematically.

Previously, both Oldboy and Sympathy For Lady Vengeance have been optioned by Hollywood for remakes and both projects have failed to materialize. Steven Spielberg and Will Smith vision for Oldboy was derailed by rights issues involving the original magna the film was based on. Back in the spring of 2008, Charlize Theron announced that she had optioned Sympathy For Lady Vengeance for a remake in which she was going to produce and star. However, since then there has been no word on the project, so it has probably died a quiet death.

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Live Action SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO Teaser Trailer

Posted on 02 January 2010 by Rich Drees

I have to admit, the teaser trailer below for the upcoming Japanese live action adaptation of the classic anime Space Battleship Yamato gets my geek blood a-pumpin’. Known as Starblazers here in the United States, I grew up watching the show with friends every day after school in the early 1980s, a daily dose of a drug called space opera for us kids already hooked by Star Wars.

This film only started shooting in the middle of last October, so I am a bit surprised that there is already a teaser trailer, short as it is, out already. The producers must think they really have something to start the hype so early in advance of the film’s Japanese release next December. From the small glimpse that we do get, it looks like they are indeed on the right track.

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Live Action YAMATO Blasts Off

Posted on 23 October 2009 by Rich Drees

StarBlazers2They’re back off to outer space, defending mother Earth and saving the human race.

The crew of the classic anime series Space Battleship Yamato, known in the United States as Star Blazers, is set for a new big screen adventure. But instead of their familiar two-dimensional, hand drawn appearance, this new film, which started shooting in Japan last week, will sport a  real life, flesh and blood crew.

The film, budgeted at over two billion yen or $22 million American, is being directed by Takashi Yamazaki, the director best known to Western fans of Asian action cinema for the time travel action film Returner. Popstar-turned-actor Takuya Kimura is leading the cast as Susumu Kodai, the character known as Derek Wildstar to American audiences. Reports state that this live action version will make some changes to the original animated version. Two characters – Aihara (known as Homer to English-speaking audiences) and Dr. Sado (Dr. Sane) – are getting sex changes in the transition, becoming females.

Premiering on Japanese TV in 1974, Space Battleship Yamato told the story of the crew of a starship racing across the galaxy to retrieve a cure for the radioactive fallout from an alien invasion’s bombardment that is slowly poisoning the Earth. It was brought over to America in 1977, where it was embraced by an audience already excited by the space opera of Star Wars. Two more television series and several animated films followed.

A live action Space Battleship Yamato/ Star Blazers adaptation was close to being a reality a little over a decade ago. The project was in development at Disney through most of the 1990s, with a script having been written by Tab Murphy. You can read our less than glowing review of it here. And while the script took several liberties with the story that would probably not go well over with fans of the original, the project was ultimately shelved after studio head Michael Eisner departed.

The film is set for a December 2010 release in Japan, but as of now, there is no word if any US distributor picking up the film for release here. I would think, though, that there would be a viable enough audience between anime fans and those, like myself, who remember the original series from its syndicated runs years ago to support at least a DVD release if not some limited theatrical distribution.

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