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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Matheson’

The Box, 2009 – Movie Review

Posted by LiveFor on April 19, 2010

Director: Richard Kelly
Starring: James Marsden, Cameron Diaz, Frank Langella

Score: 8 / 10

Richard Kelly was behind the phenomenal Donnie Darko and the confusing flawed epic Southland Tales. Both featured deep far reaching ideas and, although the execution in the latter was a bit out of whack, you were left thinking about them for a long time.

The Box is no exception to this. It deals with choice and the dark places they can take you. Based on Richard Matheson’s short story, “Button Button” and with a healthy dose of Philip K Dick paranoia, the film opens up in the Seventies were Cameron Diaz and James Marsden are a happy couple with a young son. She is a teacher, he is an engineer at NASA hoping to become and astronaut and that set up is based on Richard Kelly’s life.

To upset the apple cart comes a disfigured Frank Langella with the titular box. Inside the box is a button and he informs the couple that if they press the button they will get $1,000,000 (Dr Evil would be so happy), but someone they don’t know will die.

The first part of the film deals with their decision about what to do with the button and fleshing out their world. It is this aspect that I thought Kelly handled really well. You get the feeling of their family and events going on around them. My problem with lots of films, especially high concept ones like this, is that it takes place in a tiny place with just the people involved. You don’t always feel as if the world is moving on a around them. Kelly gets by this by having quite a large cast of good supporting actors and setting it in the Seventies may also help that. It puts you in mind of Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives.

The scarred face of Langella is just part of the strangeness that slowly creeps into the film. People stare at Diaz and Marsden before suffering nosebleeds, events turn against them meaning they current lifestyle is at risk, and elsewhere a man shoots his wife and goes on the run.

I can’t go into the plot of the film too much without spoiling it, but needless to say the button is just the first choice they are given.

Marsden does an excellent job and gets further away from the cardboard cut-out that was Cyclops. Diaz does okay, but the accent she puts on gets in the way, yet you feel her anguish very well in some later scenes.

The main praise goes to Kelly for the whole look and feel of the film. Some standout scenes are the ones in the library – Marsden walking between the desks – and all of the ones with Langella who is just superb. We don’t get given an explanation as to what exactly is going on or who is behind it all, but what information is dripped to us sets light to the imagination as you try and figure out the purpose of the choice and what it means to us all.

I could go on, but run the risk of spoiling it for you. Go and watch it, then think about it and watch some more.

Would you push the button?

The Box (DVD) – Amazon.co.uk
The Box (Blu-Ray) – Amazon.co.uk
The Box (DVD) – Amazon.com
The Box (Blu-ray) – Amazon.com

Posted in Film, news, Review, Sci-Fi, Thriller | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Random – Laverne & Shirley, Bubo in Clash of the Titans, Salvation Boulevard, Vacation, Unknown White Male, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Earthbound, Vamps, Transformers 3

Posted by LiveFor on February 11, 2010

Valentine’s Day director Garry Marshall created the classic Happy Days spin off sitcom Laverne & Shirley, which starred Cindy Williams and Garry’s sister Penny Marshall as Milwaukee brewery workers.  Extra talked to Marshall who claimed that a film adaptation may be in the works with Jessica Biel and Jennifer Garner as the duo.

Variety are saying that Pierce Brosnan, Ed Harris, and Jim Gaffigan will star in indie feature Salvation Boulevard. The comedic thriller is set in the world of mega-churches in which a former Deadhead-turned-born again-Christian finds himself on the run from fundamentalist members of his mega-church who will do anything to protect their larger-than-life pastor.

New Line has hired screenwriters Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Sam Weir from Freaks and Geeks!) to write the new Vacation film according to Variety.  The story will focus on Rusty Griswold, now a grown man, who decides to take his own wife and kids on a road trip to Wally World before it closes forever. Chase is expected to reprise his role as Clark Griswold, now a grandfather. It will be closer in tone to Planes, Trains and Automobiles than the previous chapters.

Filming has begun on Jaume Collet-Serra’s (Orphan) next project Unknown White Male in Germany.  The film stars Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, Clash of the Titans), Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds), January Jones (Mad Men), Aidan Quinn (The Book of Daniel), Bruno Ganz (The Reader, Downfall) and Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) –  Liam Neeson stars as Dr. Martin Harris, who awakens after a car accident in Berlin to discover that his wife (January Jones) suddenly doesn’t recognize him and another man (Aidan Quinn) has assumed his identity. Ignored by disbelieving authorities and hunted by mysterious assassins, he finds himself alone, tired, and on the run. Aided by an unlikely ally (Diane Kruger), Martin plunges headlong into a deadly mystery that will force him to question his sanity, his identity, and just how far he’s willing to go to uncover the truth.

According to Variety screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith are to write a remake of the 1982 musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  The 1982 version (based off the 1978 Broadway play of the same name) starred Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton as a town sheriff and madame who team up to stop a crusading TV personality from shutting down the local whorehouse. 

THR is reporting that Richard Matheson’s 1982 novel Earthbound is heading to movieland. This will join adaptions of his other books I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man and What Dreams May Come. Earthbound is described as an “erotic ghost story” about a married man who starts an affair with a young stranger, only to realize that she may actually be the ghost of a long-dead woman driven by something more than earthly passion.

Screen Daily have the news that Alicia Silverstone will reunite with Clueless director Amy Heckerling in a film called Vamps“ a modern-day tale of two young female vampires living the good life in New York until love enters the picture and each has to make a choice that will jeopardize their immortality.” Krysten Ritter (Confessions of a Shopaholic, Veronica Mars, Breaking Bad) will be the other Vamp alongside Silverstone.

Tyrese Gibson has confirmed that he will be back as Sgt. Epps in Michael Bays Transformers 3. In a post on Twitter, he confirmed by saying that “Yes I will for sure be in Transformers 3.. Get Ready!! Epps is here to STAY!!”.

Bubo the mechanical Owl has a cameo in Louis Leterrier’s remake of Clash of the Titans. Film School Rejects had the news, but it is not clear whether his scenes will make it into the final cut.

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The Box – Early review of Richard Kelly’s new film

Posted by LiveFor on October 22, 2009

boxRichard Kelly is the bloke behind the brilliant Donnie Darko (the director’s cut sucked though). He then made Southland Tales which was a huge flop (although Jinja tells me it is not quite as bad as everyone said, just a bit of a mess).

As previously reported Kelly’s next film is based on the Richard Matheson story – Button, Button – now retitled The Box. It stars James Marsden (X-Men, 27 Dresses, Hairspray) and Cameron Diaz (Charlie’s Angels, The Mask).

Hollywood Elsewhere had a review from an Australian Critic called Don Groves and unfortunately it looks as if The Box may be more Southland Tales than Donnie Darko.

“This period sci-fi thriller (i.e., set in the mid ’70s) suffers from a complete lack of logic and woeful miscasting of the lead roles — and, worse, is almost totally devoid of tension.

“Inspired by ‘Button, Button,’ a 1970s short story by Richard Matheson, the film flounders on its preposterous premise: What would you do if someone offered you a million bucks to press a red button that would cause someone, somewhere — a person you didn’t know — to die?

“Anyone with half a brain would tell the crackpot making this offer to shove the box where the sun don’t shine, but not schoolteacher Norma (Cameron Diaz) and her NASA engineer husband Arthur (James Marsden). They’re short of money, you see, because Norma has just learned she won’t get the employee discount to enable her to keep their son in the private school where she works, she’ll have to postpone reconstructive surgery on her mangled foot, and Arthur’s application to become an astronaut is rejected after he failed the psych test.

“So they toy with taking up the offer from the mysterious Arlington Steward (Frank Langella), an elegantly-dressed, courteous chap with a horribly disfigured face. “I assure you I am not a monster, just a man with a job to do,” he intones gravely. The next day, Norma impetuously presses the button, and, across town in Virginia, a woman is shot dead.

“Steward duly delivers the loot and departs to tempt some other hapless couple. Not once does this well-educated, middle-class couple ask him if anyone died as a result of Norma’s succumbing to temptation. Is that plausible?

“The rest of the movie is an incoherent mess filled with clues, red herrings and non-sequiturs. Random people keep getting nosebleeds. There’s a creepy student, a tormented babysitter, inept efforts by Arthur’s cop father-in-law to investigate these peculiar events, and some psychobabble about the ‘path to salvation.’

“Who employs Steward and has orchestrated his mission? All is revealed, sort of, but little of it makes sense. In essence, Kelly appears to be using a muddle-headed morality play to remind us we’re all responsible for the consequences of our actions. Like, who needs reminding?

“Affecting an annoying Southern accent, Diaz struggles to make Norma seem remotely interesting or worthy of sympathy, despite the predicament she precipitates. Marsden lacks the authority to be believable as a NASA engineer and is barely adequate as a husband and father who’s faced with a cruel dilemma. There is almost zero chemistry between them, which makes it hard to believe they’re a loving couple. Old pro Langella is suitably creepy and menacing, but his efforts are wasted.

“To reflect the 1976 setting, Kelly and his cinematographer Steven Poster drained much of the color, resulting in a cold, flat and uninviting look — rather like the film itself. And was wallpaper of that era really so ugly?”

Posted in Film, Horror, news, Review, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Trailer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hugh Jackman has Real Steel in robot boxing film

Posted by LiveFor on October 1, 2009

hugh-jackmanCalm down ladies and lovers of Musical Theatre. Hugh Jackman, who just opened on Broadway in A Steady Rain with Daniel Craig, is in talks to star onscreen in the Shawn Levy-directed Real Steel for DreamWorks according to Variety.

The film is about a fighter who has to reinvent himself when human boxing becomes obsolete, replaced by 2000 pound human-like robots. Jackman is negotiating to play the ex-fighter, who becomes a Robot Boxing promoter, but whose chances of success are hampered by his access to sub-standard robot parts. That is until he discovers a discarded robot that always seems to win. The ex-fighter has also discovered he’s the father of a 13-year old son, and they bond as the robot brawls its way toward the top.

The premise is based on a short story by Richard Matheson. It’s a reunion between Matheson and Spielberg. Matheson wrote Spielberg’s directing debut, “Duel,” and he was story editor on Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories.”

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First poster for Richard Kelly’s The Box

Posted by LiveFor on April 4, 2009

Richard Kelly is the guy who made the excellent Donnie Darko and the not so special Southland Tales. As you may or may not know he is making a film called The Box. It is based on on the short story “Button, Button” by screenwriter and novelist Richard Matheson (Duel, I am Legend). Quiet Earth dug up this first poster for it.

Norma Lewis (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) are a suburban couple with a young child who receive a simple wooden box as a gift, which bears fatal and irrevocable consequences. A mysterious stranger delivers the message that the box promises to bestow upon its owner $1 million with the press of a button. But, pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world…someone they don’t know. With just 24 hours to have the box in their possession, Norma and Arthur find themselves in the cross-hairs of a startling moral dilemma and must face the true nature of their humanity.

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I Am Legend Prequel? Just what we didn’t need

Posted by LiveFor on September 25, 2008

Warner Bros has greenlit a prequel to I Am Legend. Will Smith has signed on to reprise his role as Robert Neville, and Francis Lawrence has returned as director. According to Variety, D.B. Weiss (The Game) is writing the script based on a detailed plot outline that was developed over the past few months by Smith, Lawrence, Akiva Goldsman (producer and screenwriter of the original).

The prequel will follow Neville in the last days before and after the man-made virus kills/mutates New York City. A sequel was considered, but obviously wouldn’t have been possible without starting over with a completely new lead character/actor. No word on if author Richard Matheson was consulted about the film.

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