Hollywood loves stories of failure almost more than it loves success. The tales of flops such as Heaven’s Gate, Ishtar and The Bonfire of the Vanities have spawned endless conversations, magazine articles and no few books. But the story of a flop is often distilled down into over-simplified factoids and circumstances. In the broad public view, all most people tend to know is that a movie was over-ambitious or poorly conceived, and that it tanked, possibly taking companies and careers with it.
One of the legendary flops is Renny Harlin‘s Cutthroat Island, a 1995 pirate film that starred his then-wife Geena Davis and actor Matthew Modine. The film cost almost a hundred million to make, and raked in only about one-tenth that amount. Stories have flown that the movie’s failure was responsible for the demise of production company Carolco. That company previously made Basic Instinct, Cliffhanger, Terminator 2, and other successful films, as well as another oft-discussed dog, Showgirls, released only months before Cutthroat Island.
In a new interview to promote his current film 5 Days of War, Harlin talks candidly about the experience of making Cutthroat Island, and the fact of it being a financial disaster. His statements are frank. While he indicts Carolco for making the film when he says the company was insolvent, he also accepts a certain arrogance of his own, inflated by the success of Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger, as being part of the problem. But, he says, if he’d been allowed to walk away, the movie never would have happened at all. Read More »
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Well, look at that: Brundlefly is twenty-five years old today. On August 15, 1986, David Cronenberg’s The Fly was released by Twentieth-Century Fox. The film became Cronenberg’s greatest success to date, and quickly established itself as an instant classic of practical effects thanks to the Oscar-winning work of Chris Walas. (Who would go on to direct the sequel.) The Fly also gave stars Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis, who had met and begun dating while making Transylvania 6-5000, their first true breakout lead opportunities.
Those are all significant results of the film’s release, but The Fly is a film worth revisiting and honoring for other reasons. It marks a real turning point in the career of David Cronenberg, and stands as one of the unassailable arguments for the idea of the film remake. And, in the cinematic culture of 2011, where the superhero is ascendant, some of you might join me in hoping that we might eventually cycle back around to a point where much weirder stories of transformation and the effects of power on the human body and psyche seem like viable commercial efforts. Read More »
Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?
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Note: With The Matarese Circle, once a potential vehicle for Tom Cruise, seemingly on the back burner, might this be David Cronenberg’s next film? The director also has the previously announced Don DeLillo adaptation and “limo drama,” Cosmopolis, in development.
Predictable news this evening with a double-take twist. David Cronenberg is said to be developing a remake of his 1986 sci-fi horror classic The Fly as a potential vehicle for him to write and direct. Risky Business reports that technological leaps are the main factor in Cronenberg’s decision to remake the material, which is a common excuse—what, no 3D catch?—but in this case, justifiable. Cronenberg’s The Fly was itself a heightened and gory creature feature remake of the 1958 film of the same name starring Vincent Price. Last year, Cronenberg was involved in an opera production of the film for the stage with Fly composer Howard Shore. Common sense says the opera was the decision’s spark.
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Australian composer (Alex Proyas’ Garage Days) and short film filmmaker Andrew Lancaster makes his feature directorial debut with Accidents Happen, an indie dramedy that premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.
There are dysfunctional families… and then there are the Conways. After a family tragedy, 15-year-old Billy Conway (Harrison Gilbertson) has become the de facto glue between his bitter mom (Geena Davis), distant brother (Harry Cook), and stoic dad (Joel Tobeck). But when Billy starts to act out, everything changes for him and his family.
Based loosely on Brian Carbee’s autobiographical book and one-man theater production, the film is set in 1980′s New England, but was shot in Sydney. The film was named by New York Post as one of the five films to look out for at Tribeca, and the Examiner called it “a promising feature debut (by director Andrew Lancaster and writer Brian Carbee) that isn’t shy in its examination of a nasty-yet-funny family dynamic.” Check out the teaser trailer after the jump.
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