25 November 2007

Cool "Batman" Animated Short

Here's a nifty homemade short film that depicts The Dark Knight in a new (monochromatic) light: the talented Isaak Fernandez Rodriguez, a professional animator based in Barcelona, spent three years making this first chapter in what I hope will be an ongoing series. Check out this utterly unique take on the Caped Crusader here at Animwatch (thanks Lidia!).

21 November 2007

Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da (Web) Gunk?

Can this be for real? Spider-Man: The Musical--yes, a real live stage musical--is apparently well into preproduction with no less a talent than Julie Taymor calling the shots! With music by Bono and The Edge (need I mention they're from a little band called U2?)! How the hell did this happen? I blame Legally Blonde-The Musical--then again, I blame it for most things that are wrong in this world...

The ever-reliable Cinematical's got the story here.

Taymor, of course, earned her rep as something of a stage visionary (The Lion King is perhaps her best known achievement) before turning to film with Frida and her wild adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. She's so into it she'd like to cast the two leads from her current Beatles movie musical Across The Universe: ersatz McCartney Jim Sturges as Peter Parker (he'll have to work on the New Yawk accent) and Evan Rachel Wood as Mary Jane (but to me, she looks more like Gwen Stacey).

According to an interview in The Daily Mail, Taymor promises her take will be more "faithful" to the comics, and plans to include "trapeze artists, giant puppets, and incredible costumes into the show." Perhaps Wood's boyfriend Marilyn Manson can be convinced to play Morbius, The Living Vampire?

No word on what Stan Lee thinks of all this, but come curtain time on its premiere night, you can be he'll be on the red carpet taking credit for it all. And I'm sure that Steve Ditko's private box will be waiting, but my guess is that it'll remain vacant while he remains immersed in some new edition of The Fountainhead.

Tread softly, talented people--this won't be the first time a superhero icon has taken flight on the American stage: justly forgotten is 1966's Broadway flop It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman, which told the story of a certain blue and red clad Kryptonian through song, verse, and and a little soft-shoe (interesting that the book was written by Robert Benton and David Newmon, who would later cowrite the excellent "Superman: The Movie").

BTW, betcha didn't that "Batman" nearly made it to the musical stage during the height of the character's 90s movie/TV popularity, with Jim Steinman having completed and recording some songs before the plug was pulled (you can check out "The Joker's Song" here).

Here's a little clip from the Supes musical, etc. to serve as a warning of what could happen if it all goes down in a flaming wreck when Spider-Man: The Musical debuts either in London's West End or on Broadway next year.

Julie, don't "let it be"...
©2007 Robert J. Lewis

19 November 2007

TIFF 2007 Review: "Redacted"

Brian DePalma's controversial Iraq drama Redacted is now in limited release, and ruffling feathers on the right and the left wherever it goes. In case you missed it, here's my review from this past year's Toronto International Film Festival.

17 November 2007

Hate Toronto? Have I Got A Game For You!

The talented students of the Game Design program at Toronto's George Brown College have created a promising new videogame which pits you--as "George Freeman"--against the extraterrestrial menace "The Combine" on the mean streets of The Big Smoke! Yes, the environments you'll navigate in this Half Life 2 mod are based upon actual downtown Toronto locations, so you'll be fighting for your (virtual) life by Massey Hall, The Eaton Centre, on the Dundas TTC platform, in the remains of St. Michael's hospital, uptown to Mel Lastman Square, and if you complete all the levels, you'll unlock the underground PATH system. Too much fun! Check out some sample screenshots here.

My kudos go to the game's primary designers Ezra Arellano, Adrian Rosca, Troy Manalo, Roozbeh Madanipour and Kyle Cislak--talented youngsters who I hope can sell this baby to Hollywood for a huge chunk of change (there's little chance Canada would ever produce a film like this, so why not aim big?). I just hope Uwe Boll keeps his dirty mitts off of it!
"City 7: Toronto Conflict" is available as a free download here, with more levels promised to follow.

10 November 2007

Celebrating Animation Great Bob Clampett

Today Lidia and I attended a special afternoon tribute to animation legend Bob Clampett, who along with Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Robert McKimson, Virgil Ross, Frank Tashlin, and Friz Freleng, created the timeless adventures of Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Sylvester, Tweety, Speedy and the rest of the Looney Tunes universe. He also created the beloved animated TV series "Beanie And Cecil".

Clampett's daughter Ruth (centre) presented a visual biography of her father's fascinating (and enviable!) life (he passed away in 1984), and presented some new collectible pieces from the Clampett Studios Collection. Ruth manages the Warner Bros. Gallery Of Animation Art, which in addition to Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies art includes DC Comics, Hanna-Barbera, and Harry Potter.

The pieces are now on display at The Animation Connection at Yonge/Eglinton and are well worth checking out. An entire disc of the new Looney Tunes DVD collection (vol. 5) has been devoted to Clampett's works, which includes the first-ever appearance of Tweety (which Clampett based on his own baby photo!).

06 November 2007

A "Second" Earth? Cripes--We're Not Done Ruining The First One Yet!

Here's proof that the romance of the Space Age is officially over--the public and media indifference that greeted the discovery of another planet in another solar system!

The planet is approx. 45 times the mass of Earth and has an orbital cycle of 260 days. It joins the four others orbiting the star "55 Cancri", in the "Cancer" constellation.

The best news is that it occupies what is called a star's "Goldilocks' or "habitable" zone--not too hot, not too cold--where liquid water and mild temperatures could exist. But scientists are more interested in its moon, which could be more habitable to Earth-like life.

But don't go firing up the jet pack just yet--it's 41 light years away, or (scribbling calculations on my chalkboard...) 240,906,832,298,136 miles, and the scientists at San Francisco State U figure its conditions are probably more like those of Saturn, which, as we all know, is where the giant worms live, as documented in the film "Beetlejuice".

Read all the detail here courtesy of Canoe.

01 November 2007

King On Clapton

Having been the critical community's favorite whipping boy for most of his career, Stephen King is intimately familiar with the art of reviewing, as fans of his non-fiction chronicles "Danse Macabre" on "On Writing" know well. Taking a break from his column for Entertainment Weekly, King has written a review of Eric Clapton's autobiography for the New York Times. Check it out here.

TAD 2007: "The Tripper" Reviewed

My review of David Arquette's directorial debut "The Tripper" is up at Movieforum. One of the big tickets at this year's Toronto After Dark Film Festival, it's the heartwarming tale of hippies vs. a psycho in a Ronald Reagan mask that aspires to transcend the "slasher" genre and for the most part, succeeds. Read all about it here.