Trailer for Luc Besson's Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec with English subtitles.

Louise Bourgoin stars as Adèle Blanc-Sec in this adaptation of the Jacques Tardi comics.

www.adeleblancsec-lefilm.com


Nimród Antal (Vacancy, Armoured) directs this return to the Predator franchise, in which Laurence Fishburne, Topher Grace, Adrien Brody, Alice Braga and Danny Trejo take on the titular murderous space dreads.

www.predators-movie.com


Running Out Of Time

Cheung played by Andy Lau (House of Flying Daggers, Infernal Affairs, Fulltime Killer), is a man whose cancer is in the advanced stages, with a maximum of 4 weeks to live. Cheung however has a few scores left to settle and does not intend to sit around and pass into death quietly. He sets about executing an elaborate plan to see his scores settled. This starts a 78 hour game of cat and mouse between him and hard boiled cop Inspector Ho played by Ching Wan Lau (Colour of the Truth, Full Alert, Return to a Better Tomorrow).

Running Out Of Time was written by French writing team Julien Carbon and Lauraunt Courtiaud and then further adapted into the Chinese screenplay by Nai-Hoi Yau whose writing credits include PTU and The Bare-Footed Kid. Although French the writers are long time fans of Hong Kong cinema and have created a great plot with plenty of twists and turns and that all essential male bonding that proliferates much of Hong Kong's cinema. Directed by Johnny To whose film credits include PTU, The Mission, Heroic Trio 2: Executioners.

Hong Kong cinema and particularly the "cops and robbers" sub genre is enjoying a renascence, while this new wave of movies do not match the Heroic bloodshed genre of the 80’s for ballistic violence, they do offer a great deal of style and arguably better plots. In the twisty plot department Running out of time does not disappoint, if you enjoyed, Colour of the truth, Infernal affairs, Cop on a mission etc. then this is another film your going to love.

Andy lau is excellent as ever proving again why he is one of Hong Kong cinemas hot properties and a firm fan favourite. In fact Andy Lau won the “best Actor” accolade at the 2000 Hong Kong film awards for his performance. .Lau Ching Wan as inspector Po holds his own well on screen with Lau giving a great deadpan performance to match Lau’s enigmatic Cheung.

After Cheung robs an insurance company, he takes a hostage on the roof and Inspector Ho a master police negotiator is called in. Ho asks Cheung what he wants offering idea's such as a helicopter, a fast car and even a chance to call a girlfriend or wife. Cheung shoots the hostage and say's “I don’t want any of those things; I just want to play a game with you for 78 hours”. Confused and intrigued by Cheung’s statement Ho finds himself becoming obsessed with taking him down before the time runs out. As the plot develops and the two try and outwit each other they develop a strong unspoken bond and a growing respect.

Director Johnny To gives the film a very stylised feel that is almost noir in its tone, with haunting sad music throughout that serves to reminds you that Cheung is a tragic character. To further the tragic feel there is a very effective sub plot in which Cheung's character forms an almost romantic relationship with a beautiful girl he meets on a bus while avoiding the police who are hunting him. They only meet twice onscreen, but the character interplay is done beautifully, in their second meeting they have dinner in a restaurant with Chan telling her “If only I had more time”, she does not understand until a coffing fit makes him spit blood into his drink and his ill health becomes apparent to her.

The great thing about Running out of time is that it manages to skilfully combine the stylish look seen recently in Johnny To’s PTU with some great action sequences including gun battles and car chases that remind you, should you have forgotten just why you love Hong Kong cinema so much.

Running out of time is a great blend of modern noir-esque visuals, haunting background melodies, twisty plot, great acting and explosive action. A great addition to the genre and other piece of must own Hong Kong cinema.

Buy It: amazon.co.uk 


Determinism

Sanjit and Ranju Majumdar are not just a filmmaking duo but twin brothers.  Born in Queens, New York and raised in New Jersey, the brothers used their spare time to craft the film "Determinism."

Focusing on themes of racial tensions and drug dealing, Alec seeks to break away from his small, college town roots and shatter the stereotypes as a "South Asian Geek."  Flunking out of school and being separated from his family, Alec is left to his own devices. He is prepared to "transcend determinism - by any means necessary."

Embarking on a journey into the underworld of drug dealers and gangsters, Alec agrees to partake in a heist.  The money earned is his ticket to freedom and the big time in New York City. While the plan seems simple, all is not what it seems. Things go terribly wrong leaving Alec to use "any means necessary" to get his money.

The film is an ultra low budget feature and has a very nice visual style.  As of now, this crime drama doesn't have a formal release date, but Sanjit and Ranju hope to get it out there.  I know I'd like to see this film get its moment but for now, I'm happy happy to support their efforts by giving it a mention here. 

Good luck gentlemen. 



God Told Me To

When a sniper guns down 14 pedestrians at random on the streets of New York City, cop with a troubled personal life, Peter Nicholas, is up for the job of reasoning with him. Though he doesn’t manage to talk him down from his killing spot atop the water tower, he does elicit a reason from him before he throws himself to his death. As Nicholas investigates further killings across the city it becomes apparent that something connects them all; the killer’s dying confessions reveal that “God told me to.” As the investigation takes shape, the common ground for each killer is having met an elusive long-haired stranger shortly before their crimes, but who is this ubiquitous being and what will Detective Nicholas’s connection to them be? Find out in Larry Cohen’s genre-busting cult classic.

New York City in the 70’s had a tendency to be portrayed in the movies and the seemingly endless cop shows of the same era as the perfect site of public paranoia; a sprawling concrete metropolis breeding suspicion and uncertainty where anything could be possible, and usually was, egged on by the media to fuel the almost palpable air of unrest that floated around the dirty streets. Writer/director Larry Cohen’s God Told Me To is certainly no exception and exploits this feeling well with his bizarre mix of the strange and the serious in this detective/mystery/horror/sci-fi hybrid that is as compelling as it is peculiar.

God Told Me To, despite being a mixed bag generically, belongs for the most part, particularly tonally, to the detective/mystery genres. With the opening scenes of a nauseatingly claustrophobic New York, our troubled detective has to act fast when a sniper opens fire, causing hysteria in the streets below. Reminiscent of the earlier Dirty Harry, God Told Me To uses the detective figure as an urban hero, combating one of the city’s most feared attackers; the sniper. This kind of crime perfectly utilises the self-perpetuating urban fear; a crime which preys on the city but which the city conversely and simultaneously conceals in safety. And if you are thinking there’s nothing too strange or unusual about this, well then you’d be right, but it is as the investigation gets underway that we gain the bizarre turn that has earned Cohen (Q The Winged Serpent and It’s Alive!) his rightful cult status.

Indeed, it’s only as the story develops that the bizarre horror/sci-fi elements begin to enter the arena. As we learn more about the tangled personal life of our hero, of his devout Catholicism, the parallel mystery similarly unravels. But don’t be fooled by Cohen’s crazy generic mix for it masks some grave undertones. There are some serious and still very relevant ideas about religion at play here, which helps to make this film timeless. Cohen presents some surprisingly open ideas about religion which won’t be to everyone’s taste; “You got all the blessing’s who needs religion?!” points to a false and almost greedy human search in desperation for a higher power which, as Cohen rather aptly presents, won’t necessarily be a good one.

Whilst there is some bloodshed in this film it is more a horror of ideas with some creepy and genuinely unpleasant and difficult scenes made only the more so as it is so plausible. As we discover that religion has a hand in the city hiding something more deadly, invested with the power of destruction more precise than a sniper, it is truly chilling. It is an idea even more relevant now than when Cohen wrote it; that the more modernised society becomes the more we search for some lost meaning and the more we open ourselves up to religion, fanaticism and the need to feel the presence of a deity to restore the human purpose (it is no accident that the sniper opens fire above the icon of modern American consumerism that is Bloomingdales). But fear not, if this all sounds a little heavy you can still relax and enjoy the bizarre story, direction and generic mix that make it peculiarly entertaining as this, after all, is what makes this a Cohen Classic; a strange film with intelligent undertones, and who can say fairer than that?

Part warning for modern society, part bizarre generic mix, but all-round Cult Classic.


"Larry & Burt's Gut Rot" is a new web based series chronicling two down on the luck guys trying to make it in the world only to have that world throw up rejection at every turn.  I suppose we've all been there at one point of our lives and this series aims to take a comedic look those times we'd rather be anyone but who we are at that moment.

Our first episode kicks off with Larry, a pizza delivery driver, who can't bare the stench of his own car from the daily deliveries he does. He tries, in futility, to wash away the smell of cheese, sausage and other pizza toppings that has driven him to hate pizza alltogether.  His girfriend, Ruth, doesn't mind and we're not entirely sure if he's completey enamored with her or takes cold comfort in her companionship. He engages in at least one small act of rebellion and I'm sure we'll see more friction as future episodes roll on.

Burt is out of work and still pining for his former girlfriend by checking the status updates of her Facebook page.  He's in hock trying to pay his rent and is constantly demeaned by one negative job interview after another.  There seems to be no direction for him to go but down as he is a defeated man.

The series is the latest effort by Canadian film making duo, the Butler brothers. Their past work has always been about the common guy, his struggles for some sort of redemption in a cookie cutter world where he doesn't quite fit in, and the eternal struggle of men trying to figure out the minds of women.  Chase this down with some good beer and you get where these two filmmakers are about.  ""Larry & Burt's Gut Rot" plays on these themes once more and smatters on some funny pop culture references. All of it provides us with a very entertaining first episode. 

Overall I really enjoyed the first series entry and the plan is to have a new episode debut each month.  I have followed these two filmmakers with  their earlier entries like "Bums" and have found that they've come a long way and I have no doubt they will keep getting better and better.  When I caught  "Larry & Burt's Gut Rot" I felt two things: I was glad they were still going at it and I was happy that they were becoming better filmmakers by still going at it.  Moreover, I am relieved that there are good guys out there who understand the plight of the average Joe and make it their point to create something around it.  No, I wasn't happy to see the characters miserable but I felt glad someone out there understands it. 

Youtube is inundated with the inane and forgettable but ""Larry & Burt's Gut Rot" is a bright spot in an over saturated webisode market.  We need the voices of filmmakers like Jason and Brett Butler not to feel bad about being down and out, but to look at it and laugh.  So for that I give them a high five, cold beer and a thumbs up. 

"Larry & Burt's Gut Rot" debut episode is streaming now on Youtube so go check it out and give your next pizza delivery guy a good tip.   They're people too. 


Kiru

New York inhabitants seeking to extend their filmic Japanorama need look no further than the Japan Society's upcoming screening of Kenji Misumi's 1962 breakthrough film, Destiny's Son (Kiru.)

Forming part of their Monthly Classic Series, The Double-Edged Sword: The Chambara Films of Shintaro Katsu and Ichikawa Raizo, Destiny's Son sees Misumi (Zatoichi, Lone Wolf and Cub) set the formidable Raizo Ichikawa on a visually stylistic journey of revenge and redemption. 

Destiny's Son screens Friday Feb. 19th at 7.30pm.

See Japan Society for tickets and more info. on current and upcoming events.


Jim Groom's "Room 36" Gets DVD Release

When writer-director Jim Groom conceived the idea for an unrelated follow-up project to his underrated 1992 comedy-horror, Revenge of Billy the Kid, little could he have predicted the series of unfortunate events that would set the project back a testing 11 years. But persistence and unfaltering willpower paid off as, with several years now elapsed since Room 36's inception and 2005 theatrical release, this labour of love has finally seen the light of its DVD release day. 

In addition to the smart Brit comedy/noir thriller feature that pitches a chain of unsavoury events in a suitably seedy setting, the DVD comes fully equipped with bonus features that will delight wannabe-filmmakers and those with an interest in the machinations of the industry. On top of trailers and deleted scenes, you'll find a 9-minute featurette on the gross-out, bestiality comedy film extraordinaire, Revenge of Billy the Kid and a feature-length documentary, 11 Years in the Making, which follows the trials and tribulations of the titular feature. 

Affectionately sub-headed The Most Informative Documentary On How NOT To Make An Independent Feature Film, 11 Years is an eye-opening and invaluable watch not only for those who've been following this epic release, but also for those with an interest in embarking upon independent film production themselves. 

Available now from Amazon UK and other quality retailers.


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After a run of bad luck, John (Steve Buscemi), a compulsive gambler, runs away from Las Vegas and toward a normal job and life.  Taking a nondescript position in an auto insurance company in Albuquerque, he tries to get ahead in the straight world, amid the ever-present temptations of scratch-off lotto tickets.

When his boss, Mr. Townsend (Peter Dinklage), asks John to accompany his top fraud debunker, Virgil (Romany Malco) on an investigation of a dubious car “accident” near Vegas, John sees an opportunity to get a promotion , though he’s concerned about  returning to the gambling game. Before  leaving he becomes involved with his eccentric co-worker Jill (Sarah Silverman), a dalliance that has the potential to become a real relationship.

Soon John is on the road with Virgil, where they encounter a series of offbeat characters, including a wheelchair-bound stripper (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a nude militant (Tim Blake Nelson), a park Ranger (Jesse Garcia), and a carnival human torch (John Cho).  While Virgil is the supposed leader of the investigation, it’s John who begins to finally assert himself, pushing the case closer to a conclusion.

Through the journey, John’s confidence builds, and he realizes that he can’t escape his gambling addiction by running away from it—it will follow him wherever he goes.  It’s only when he returns to Vegas  and his experiences there finally send him on the path to breaking free.

saintjohnmovie.com | twitter.com/StJohnLasVegas


You've watched movies for years and suddenly an idea hits you. Not just any idea, this is a full on motion picture running through your head. You toil for hours on your computer and, if you're really freaky, an old Smith Corona typewriter. You skip meals, lose touch with your friends and family, seldom see the sunlight, and subsist on Chinese food being delivered to your cramped apartment. You barely recognize yourself in the mirror. You ask with alarm, what have I become? The answer is simple, a screenwriter. No longer an aspiring one, but a real one because your putting it all on paper with the hopes of getting it made. Welcome to the most competitive field on earth. No friends, sucking up to the boss, cubicle dwelling and water cooler talk won't advance you here. You have have the idea, the execution the mojo, GOOD! One catch, you have to get it into the right hands. Easier said than done, but not impossible.

Enter Scriptapalooza. Do a quick search of screenwriting competitions and the options are overwhelming. Everyone charges an entry fee, all promise to have your script read by someone on an "expert" panel and all claim to have made someone's career skyrocket to the next level. But wait a second, you're poor because you lost your cubicle job and the barista gig you landed at the local coffee shop can just barely cover rent let alone the entry fees for all these contests. The prices can range anywhere from 40 to over a 100 US Dollars. You can't enter them all so you have to choose just a few, the right few. The kind that really do back up their claims. I had the opportunity to ask Scriptapalooza founder and president, Mark Andrushko what sets his contest apart from the others. Frustrated with his acting pursuits in Los Angeles years ago, Andrushko turned his attentions to screenwriting. Having many friends in the field, he tapped into what frustrated them with the typical contests out there. Let's face it, a lot of these contest make you feel like you're throwing your money and manuscript down a back hole. Well that all changes when you decide to enter Scriptapalooza.

You see, even if you don't win, you still win. Mark Andrushko wanted to craft not just a screenwriting contest but also a support system for the scripts that hold promise. So even if you're a semifinalist, you still get your script pitched and promoted to producers. And that's not just for a few days but an entire year. Not bad when you consider many contests take on a "there can be only one" philosophy. Mark Andrushko also has a track record with his contest. He says since the its inception in 1998, there have been seven feature films made, eighty to ninety scripts optioned, and two Emmy Awards won. He also pointed out the contest is the only one endorsed the Writers Guild of America. If that's not enough, Robert McKee, the guy who wrote one of the most authoritative books ever on screenwriting, also gives Andrushko's contest a nod.

Scriptapalooza is open to all genres of film and isin't limited to just the silver screen. They also hold a TV writing competition and coverage service to polish up that work of art you slaved over. The contest is also open to writers around the world. While Andrushko told me he doesn't write screenplays himself, he does want to try his hand at producing. In his earlier days in the business he worked for Tarantino's A Band Apart production company. While Scriptapalooza continues to grow and make celluloid dreams come true for writers, Andrushko told me he he'd like to someday see the contest along the lines of the Nicholl Fellowships. Andrushko also has a goal where he'd like to get the top 125 scripts entered into the contest promoted.

But enough of me going on and on. Visit the Scriptapalooza website! Read the contest rules and frequently asked questions and send your script into these guys already, you're not getting any younger here. The time to enter is now and the deadline is March 5th 2010. Let's make them pictures baby. Big thanks to Mark Andrushko for his time and maybe I'll see your story in a theater near me.


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