Wednesday, April 30, 2008

McBess 3D and 2D Talent

His illustrative work may seem to give off a slightly vintage whiff, but I think he puts just enough contemporary elements to make you feel like it's a completely new style.

His 3D animation is damn fine and looks 100% professional too making this one of my new fave all-rounded artists from the last couple years.

Apparently, he also has some music which will be released in a couple months and I'm really looking forward to that.

Visit his entertaining website HERE.

The video is definitely worth a watch. A 2 minute visual portfolio of his 3D work...stunning!

You can read an interview with him HERE.

Mike Rea Wooden Constructions

Mike Rea makes things out of wood. Pretty frikkin awesome things actually. From fish tanks, to space-age war tanks, to Mecha-suits for Stephen Hawking. This guy has a wild imagination and his design realisation skills are second to none.

The artist's statement:
"The intent of my work is to create something short of its outcome. My goal is to create the idea of an object that remains a dream. The objects I create are based on fictions, rather than realities. I have always been interested in the ephemeral worlds established in film, or even in popular culture.

Fictions or established hearsay allow for a flawed interpretation, which leads to a flawed result. The sublime is unattainable, and not an option."


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Banksy Art Show At Schoeni Gallery

ESPV's and UKAdapta's super good friend Nicole Schoeni of the famous Schoeni Gallery is helping to host the Banksy show in HKG with a few extra days to view the art at her gallery.

The Banksy exhibition will be a continuation of the Love Art show, which took place at the Hong Kong Arts Centre from 23-28 April, highlighting Banksy's rare and previously unseen in Hong Kong originals. The showing at Schoeni Art Gallery will then be enhanced by additional unique examples of his work, such as his famous policemen with iconic smiley faces of the acid house music, rats with drills, monkeys carrying written messages and weapons of mass destruction.

All artworks exhibited at the Banksy exhibition are secondary market originals and prints.

Vernissage: 6:30pm - 8:30pm, 29 April 2008 (Thats tonight, so get on down there!)
Exhibition: 30 April - 13 May 2008
Venue: Main Gallery 21-31 Old Bailey Street, Central, Hong Kong

For more info, visit the Schoeni Gallery's website HERE.

Monday, April 28, 2008

No More Room in Hell: 40 Years of the Modern Zombie Movie, Part 2

George Romero's 1968 masterpiece Night of the Living Dead is rightfully credited with inventing the modern zombie genre. Yet it was the sequel to that film--released a full decade later--that effectively branded that genre into the collective consciousness of popular culture, ensuring that it was no fly-by-night niche but a category that was here to stay, much like vampires, werewolves and mummies before it.

Dawn of the Dead led to a veritable explosion of zombie movies, thanks to the ways in which it took the elements introduced in Night to a level virtually unseen in horror up to that point. In the 1970s, horror was all about the explicit, rather than the implied. And Dawn delivered explicit in buckets--audiences witnessed the flesh of victims being bitten; the heads of ghouls blown apart by shotgun fire; bodies being torn to pieces by hordes of the undead. And all in brightly lit full-color.

The picture was also a major evolutionary step forward both stylistically and thematically. Romero was able to create an overwhelming sense of impending dread and realism--this was a vision of the entire world literally falling apart. At the same time, he was able to deal with issues of race, gender and consumerism in bolder, more direct ways. Add a dose of black humor, and you have the ultimate horror epic.

Although released without the all-important MPAA rating, Dawn of the Dead managed to become a cult underground sensation. And its success opened the floodgates for a seemingly limitless flow of horror movies that dealt with the walking dead.

The craze first took hold in Italy, and the result was the infamous "Italian cycle" of zombie films. As had been seen with the earlier cannibal subgenre in Italian horror cinema, Italian filmmakers were not exactly squeamish when it came to delivering the bloody goods. And they took to the new subgenre almost as ravenously as the creatures that would populate their films.

Among the first was Lucio Fulci, whose dubiously titled Zombi 2 (1979) was unofficially marketed as a sequel to Dawn of the Dead (known in Europe as Zombi). Set on a Carribean island, the film harkens back in some respects to the more traditional voodoo-style of much earlier zombie films. Yet it is also decidedly a product of the Romero renaissance, focusing as it does on graphic depictions of rotting corpses and their flesh-eating frenzies. Yet there is something even more sinister at work in Fulci's flick--with no trace of humor in sight, it's a straight-ahead gorefest of unprecedented proportions. Unrelenting in its horror, the film seems to seek mainly to revolt the viewer as much as possible.

Fulci's later zombie trilogy continued his explorations into the utter bleakness of zombie horror. Hailed by some for being stylistically and technically superior to Zombi 2, City of the Living Dead (1980), The Beyond (1981) and House by the Cemetery (1981) were also less directly influenced by Romero. Here, Fulci struck out on more of an original path, tieing the zombie mythos to that of H.P. Lovecraft, and intertwining the zombie apocalypse with the apocalypse presented in the New Testament Book of Revelations.

Outside Fulci, the Italian zombie subgenre contained a relentless multitude of other entries--some good, some bad, all uncompromisingly brutal. For example, films like Nightmare City, The Nights of Terror, Zombie Creeping Flesh, and Zombie Holocaust were all released in 1980 alone.

The violence depicted in these movies was of a type never before seen in the history of cinema. Many have pointed to Italy's pervasive Roman Catholicism as the source for this zombie obsession. Specifically, in the Italian mindset, the living dead represent the ultimate horror, the most unspeakable blasphemy, because their existence refutes the sanctity of the human soul and is a perversion of the fundamental Christian belief in the resurrection of the body.

But Italy wasn't the only place where cinematic ghouls were flourishing. Some of George Romero's American compatriots were paying attention, as well. This was evidenced by films like John Carpenter's The Fog, released a year after Dawn of the Dead. Building on Romero's notions of social commentary, The Fog reinforced the idea that these movies could contain messages beyond the depiction of gore.

Unfortunately, however, Carpenter's work was an exception to the rule in America, where most zombie flicks could be included in the growing morass of junk that threatened to envelope the entire horror genre as a reaction to the voracious demand of the new home video market. Highlights include admitted cult favorite Night of the Creeps (1986) and Redneck Zombies (1987). If nothing else, the zombie deluge in America succeeded in cementing the subgenre in the annals of popular culture, a fact that can be attested to by Michael Jackson's classic Thriller video of 1983. The undead had arrived.

One of the ways in which zombie films managed to survive the 1980s despite the oversaturation was by adding healthy doses of what helped the entire horror genre survive the decade as well: comedy. Perhaps in no other era was the horror comedy so prevalent, and within this particular niche it earned an especially memorable name: splatstick.

Going in the complete opposite direction as the Italian cycle, splatstick flicks reveled in the absurdity of the zombie premise, serving up heaping helpings of irony and ridiculously over-the-top cartoon gore. Films like Bad Taste (1987), by newcomer Peter Jackson, were able to provoke both laughter and revulsion simultaneously. Despite being more about demonic possession than zombies, Sam Raimi's Evil Dead and Evil Dead II often get lumped into this category as well, particularly the sequel. The two most revered splatstick entries would have to be Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator and Dan O'Bannon's The Return of the Living Dead, which came out within weeks of each other in 1985.

Almost an instant classic, Re-Animator was based on the work of Lovecraft, and the satirical manner in which it dealt with the subject matter of bringing life to corpses made it the "anti-Frankenstein". Although its undead were not of the flesh-eating variety, Re-Animator was a more than worthy addition to the genre.

Return of the Living Dead's zombies were not of the flesh-eating variety either--no, they preferred brains. In fact, it was this film which directly led to the inextricable link between zombies and brain-eating that continues to persist in pop culture to this day. Originally envisioned as an unofficial sequel to Night of the Living Dead, O'Bannon chose instead, out of deference to the master, to take the proceedings in a more humorous direction. The result was a film which is regarded as one of the finest horror comedies ever made.

Ironically, ROTLD would go head-to-head with the long-awaited third chapter in Romero's series, 1985's Day of the Dead. Panned at the time by critics and rejected by fans, the film failed at the box office, its serious tone and depressing social message no match for the frivolity and punk rock mentality of O'Bannon's film. Also, budgetary constraints and creative disputes had caused the film to be significantly less than what Romero had originally intended it to be.

Nevertheless, Day of the Dead featured perhaps the most astonishing make-up work yet seen in a zombie picture (courtesy of Romero's right-hand man Tom Savini), and the most shocking violence this side of the Atlantic. It also gave us the sympathetic zombie Bub, one of the all-time great horror characters and another conceptual evolution in the subgenre. Over time, Day of the Dead would be reconsidered by fans and critics alike, and rightfully take its place alongside its two predecessors.

Once again, Romero had managed to reinvent the cinematic category he invented. But after Day of the Dead, several issues would cause the director to walk away from the world of the living dead. The genre would be forced to go on without him--and during a time when horror films in general would be suffering their lowest nadir in decades.

To Be Continued...

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Written and Directed by Michael McCullers
Starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Martin

Kate Holbrook: It’s nice to feel needed, useful, important.
Angie Ostrowiski: I like all of those words.

This one’s for the ladies! Here we have one woman, Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey), who cannot get pregnant and then enlists another woman, Angie Ostrowiski (Amy Poehler) as her surrogate, or in the more contemporary sense, as her BABY MAMA. Angie leaves her dope of a common-law partner and moves in with Kate and the two go from cat fighting to slumber parties in no time. They’re having babies; they’re talking boys; they’re singing along to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” in the living room. The estrogen practically slinks off the screen in stilettos. If only this expectant comedy didn’t deliver such expected results.

The female bonding originates with Fey & Poehler’s offscreen friendship and makes for some fabulous chemistry and spontaneous hilarity but it never successfully hides the gaping story holes. Having paid an exorbitant amount of money to a firm that screens its surrogates thoroughly should have essentially eliminated Angie as an option, as she has no functional understanding of what it means to take good care of herself. Before long, perhaps to intentionally rattle us from the unoriginal unfolding of the odd couple one would ordinarily expect, Angie’s intentions come into question in such a manner that it becomes practically impossible to continue letting the good times just go on. Good clean fun is replaced by awkward angst.

This contemporary comedy draws our attention to the business of babies. It does so however in such a hackneyed fashion that if it weren’t for the talented mama’s at the forefront of it all, it would be little more than a painful delivery.


Written and Directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
Starring John Cho, Kal Penn, Rob Corddry, Roger Bart and Neil Patrick Harris

Harold: It’s not funny, Kumar. It’s not fucking funny.

Going to White Castle need not be a particularly challenging endeavor. For Harold & Kumar (John Cho & Kal Penn), two perpetual stoner best friends, it proved to be the most monumental of achievements. Still, no matter how difficult the terrain became en route toward 30 burgers, four large fries and countless free refills of soda, they never lost hope. They overcame ignorance, confidence issues and Neil Patrick Harris to get what they most desired and solidified an already rock solid friendship in the process. Picking up at exactly the same point HAROLD & KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE left off, HAROLD & KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY finds the boys packing their bags for a spur of the moment trip to Amsterdam and the jokes about perfect pubic hair and messy bowel movements follow suit. Nothing has changed essentially (except for perhaps Kumar, who looks as though all that burger weight went instantaneously to his face), but it feels somehow different. Somewhere within the first few frames, maybe when Kumar ejaculated on to his face, I don’t know, the high times come crashing down into a sobering and painfully unfunny trip.

Do you know what else works about two stoners determined to reach a burger joint destination? It’s plausible. It’s two ordinary guys in an even more ordinary situation that must surmount a series of extraordinary obstacles. The fact that they’re stoned the whole time only adds to the ridiculousness of it all, especially if you’re also stoned at home watching. Although I have yet to test the theory, I’m fairly certain watching Harold & Kumar’s second caper high might make the whole mess that much more tedious. And while I’m on the subject, where was the weed in this movie? Sure it isn’t all that likely that they would be able to find weed in Guantanamo Bay but scoring would be no less believable than their being there in the first place. Now we have a stoner movie where no one is getting stoned. What we’re left with instead is a dulled teen raunch movie designed for the mind of the adolescent male, the one at the back of the class sketching boobs and penises because he isn’t getting any action with either, when he should be paying closer attention to the history lesson being given.

I resigned myself to my fate when the expected groans grew from the groins of all the teenage boys in the audience at the thought of Harold & Kumar having to eat a cock-meat sandwich while in prison. If you’re wondering what kind of delicacy this sandwich might be, don’t. The name is self-explanatory. Naturally, the boys attempt an escape from Guantanamo rather than bite the sandwich, risking an almost certain death in the process. My hat is off to you for proving yet again what the obvious choice is between homosexual experimentation and death. With that, the gays are the first to be insulted by this horrifically ignorant film. While the film tries to expose the American population’s generalized views of minorities, it does so in such a ludicrous fashion that it actually reverses upon itself. Tempting Jews with loose change or making a black man in street wear a credible witness by arguing that he is actually an orthodontist are examples of the writers asking us to laugh at and not with the characters. Seeing as how the jokes are dead long before the punch arrives, the audience is given a lot of time to think about just how unfunny a Korean guy and an Indian guy in Klu Klux Klan garb actually is.

Two hours and I think I only laughed once (Thank you, NPH!). Harold & Kumar themselves barely seem to like each other so seeing as how they’re not having any fun, it sure isn’t easy for us to have any. Stepping up their game from just writing last time out to both writing and directing this time around proves to be too much at once for Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. Their script is aimless and rehashes a lot of the same shtick from the first film. Their style is … well, they don’t actually have one. The cult love Harold & Kumar found in the years since its initial release has gone directly to their heads and now they seem to live in this delusion that no effort is necessary and that they just have to show up to get the same results. Hmm, deluded, aimless and only funny to the guys telling the jokes, I guess it is a great stoner movie after all.

Doomsday Comes to the UK

The sci-fi/horror flick Doomsday, which was released in the U.S. earlier this year, has arrived in the U.K., where it is causing something of a stir thanks to where it takes place.

The film is set in a futuristic Britain, where Scotland has been walled off from the rest of the country in order to contain a 28-Days-Later-esque virus. Reduced to a cannibalistic wasteland, Scotland must be infiltrated by heroic Englishmen (and women) in order to find a cure for a new outbreak.

There are those who feel the movie is slanderous of Scotland and of the image of it held by many in the rest of Great Britain. Said Scottish National Party MP Angus MacNeil in an article in The Guardian:

I think it is a subliminal thought they have in England: in the dark recesses of their minds they believe that if Scotland is ever separated from London, then we will be cut off from the rest of the world for good. They think we'll build our own Hadrian's Wall and keep everyone out - which is of course nonsense. At 80p a brick, it will simply be too expensive.

Gotta love those Scotsmen and their senses of humor. However, there are more pragmatic views involved here, as well. Tourism organizations like Visit Scotland are hoping the movie will drum up interest in their ancient land. And Scottish Screen, a company that contributed significant funding to the picture and helped scout locations, believes a picture like Doomsday will have long-term benefits for the region's own motion picture industry:

Doomsday brought significant benefits to Scotland, not least to Scotland's talented base of cast and crew who worked on the production. It's likely to also attract a big audience who will see the extent to which Scotland can provide a flexible and diverse backdrop to all genres of film.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

You Go, Edward Woodward!

There aren't many among the human race who weren't reviled by the utterly asinine 2006 remake of The Wicker Man, starring flavor-of-1987 Nicolas Cage. I know I can safely say it was one of the worst movies I've ever seen. And now you can add Edward Woodward, Scottish star of the 1973 original cult classic, to the list. quotes the actor as saying, "I didn't watch it. I didn't feel like it. If it was a run-of-the-mill movie, then fine. But The Wicker Man was very special and has claimed a cult following." The 77-year-old Woodward has vowed never to see the remake, and admits to being baffled as to why it was modernized in the first place (answer: a quick and easy buck).

* * * * * * * * * *

While I'm on the subject of one of the worst movies of all time, I just wanted to make a quick comment about one of the best. I know There Will Be Blood isn't a horror movie (though it sounds like it would be), but bear with me for a second. I finally saw it last night, and can't stress enough what an astonishing achievement in filmmaking it is. As great as No Country for Old Men was, There Will Be Blood deserved the Oscar. We're talking Citizen Kane-good here. And no, I don't think that's an exaggeration. One of the finest motion pictures ever made. See it at all costs.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fake Street Signs For Sale

Found this interesting post on Grafik Warfare regarding a certain person who is selling genuine "street-signs" and doctoring them to make them look like they are priceless works of art. According to Grafik Warfare;"

"This sign for instance I know from the bottom of my road in Brighton, so it’s not from London. also that D*Face stencil was never on there. The whole thing is bullshit."

If this is true, then the person who just bought this for £4,000 GBP has been seriously duped and I feel sorry for them. It's unbelievable how far people will go to make a quick buck in this age of streetart/graffiti mania. To make fake stencils of others work is appalling.

See more of the fake signage HERE.

Tokyoplastic Koguma X MPH Labs

Tokyoplastic have done it again at NYCC and made another seriously beautiful toy which will drop very shortly for those lucky enough to get their hands on it. I present to you Koguma. A visual treat.


UKAdapta Effect Festival Tees Available

Just wanted to inform you that UKAdapta have just teamed up with amazing designer George Barron to create some commemorative Tee designs for the upcoming Effect Music Festival in Kagoshima, Japan.

Design A

Design B

This is the back of the Tee.

Hi and sorry for the lack of updates. I have just moved house and being in the primitive city they call London, my internet connection won't be up and running for a bit. So posts will be sporadic.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kay Linaker 1913-2008

Best known as the co-writer of the 1958 horror classic The Blob, Kay Linaker passed away last Friday at the age of 94. Prior to her 1945 marriage, Linaker was also an actress during the 1930s and '40s, appearing alongside Henry Fonda in Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) and Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), as well as playing a bit role in The Invisible Woman (1940), the third film in Universal's Invisible Man series. She also starred in eight Charlie Chan pictures, playing a different character in each one.

After retiring from acting, she became a screenwriter, working mainly in television (her husband Howard Phillips was an NBC executive). For her contribution to the script for The Blob, one of the biggest box office hits of 1958, she received a mere $150 (she was promised royalties, which never materialized).

In recent years, Linaker continued to work as a teacher of screenwriting, acting and film study at Keene State University, and was in fact one of the oldest college teachers in America. She died in Keene, New Hampshire, where she had been teaching and living near her daughter Katherine.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Lady Ligeia: Coming Soon to a Crypt Near You

Den of Geek (great name) has an in-depth interview up with Michael Staininger, the Austrian first-time director currently in post-production on Edgar Allen Poe's Ligeia, a modern-day adaptation of my personal favorite short story from the gothic horror master. Staininger gives a lot of fascinating insight into his work on Ligeia, including the differences between his film and Roger Corman's '60s classic The Tomb of Ligeia, the difficulties of adapting Poe to the screen, and the deficiencies in American horror films today. Of course, he also remarks, "I’m originally from Europe, from Austria, in Vienna, and anything with intellectual appeal immediately interested me." Well, excuse me, Mr. Fancy Pants European intellectual.

Poe's classic 1838 tale follows the story of a bizarre yet beatiful woman who finds a way to defeat death by sapping the life of her husband's second wife from beyond the grave, then possessing her body. Staininger's film is expected to be released sometime this fall. It features Wes Bentley of Ghost Rider fame, the great Michael Madsen, and yes, Eric Roberts. Newcomer Sofya Skya plays the title role. Despite the involvement of Eric Roberts, it sounds like it could actually be a cerebral, atmospheric, supernatural thriller. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Boy's Got to Know His Limitations

If you've been reading The Vault of Horror since the early days (all the way back in October), then you know about how much my son loves horror movies, and how much I enjoy showing them to him. Being a mere pre-schooler, his viewing has been confined to the more "tame" variety, such as Universal monster flicks, '50s sci-fi shlock and the like. But he's a tough little bruiser, so it takes quite a bit to unsettle him. He likes pushing himself, and nothing usually phases him. It's enough to make you occasionally forget that he isn't even four yet.

Once in a while, I had even experimented with movies like Shaun of the Dead and Fido, which tend to me more light-hearted, with only isolated bits of graphic stuff that can be easily fast-forwarded through. But that's about as adventurous as I got.

Then one day, as he and I were sitting on the couch, he suddenly hopped down, trotted over to the DVD tower, and pulled down The Return of the Living Dead. It had to be the glow-in-the-dark font on the special edition that got his attention--that and the zombies.

"Daddy, can we watch this?"

", no we can't watch that one. That's a grown-up movie. That's too scary."

What followed was a slowly escalating temper tantrum, of the kind that's usually reserved for bedtime or the denial of candy. Screaming, crying, jumping up and down, insisting. Now, I'm not one of these parents that simply gives in to their kids' every demand, creating spoiled brats in the process. But what I am is a pragmatist. We could go on like this for a couple of hours, I thought, or I could use this as an opportunity to teach the boy a valuable lesson. Cruel? I think that's putting it a little too strongly. I knew there was no way he'd get very far. And I was right.

As he sat on my lap, the opening scene in the medical supply warehouse held him transfixed. All those skeletons, split dogs and stuff--right up his alley. But then Frank and Freddy headed down to the basement. At the sight of the Tarman sealed up inside the trioxin cannister, he let out a little gasp. His eyes widened. Then stupid Frank smacked the cannister, letting out the gas. The Tarman's eyes opened, and we're off to the races.

Leaping off my lap for the first time, the little guy sprinted out of the living room, through the dining room and into the kitchen. A few seconds later, as the opening credits rolled, he crept back in, standing next to the TV.

"Daddy, I was just looking for a snack."

"I know, kid. Do you want me to stop the movie? Is it too scary?"

"No, I wanna see more. I'm not scared."

He climbed back up on my lap. We watched a little more. He laughed at the split dog yelping on the warehouse floor. But his reaction to the cadaver in the refrigerated locker was a little different. Once it started banging on the door and screaming to get out, he immediately jumped down off my lap again and bolted back into the dining room. Again, after a few seconds, he was back, this time a little slower.

"Daddy, I was just checking too see if the flowers on the table were OK."

I'm gonna need to teach the boy how to make up better excuses, some time before he starts dating.

"Are you sure that's all it was?"


"Can I ask you something?"


"Be honest, now."


"Is this movie scaring you?"




"Do you want me to take it off?"



"Yes. Let's put on one the movies that aren't scary."


Relieved, I happily picked up the remote and ended the brief experiment. Just like I expected, he made it less than 15 minutes in before his stubborn little will gave out. As I put the DVD back on the shelf and took down Monsters Inc., I watched him sheepishly seat himself on the couch, a shy grin crossing his face.

"You know, it's OK to get scared sometimes. Everybody does. I told you there are some movies that are just a little too scary for you right now."



"That was the only movie that was scary."

"I know, boy. I know."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Igor Trailer Debuts at New York Comic Con

The Weinstein Company unveiled the trailer for its animated horror comedy Igor yesterday afternoon at the NYCC, and the movie is already shaping up to be the coolest family film of the year. Unfortunately, the world-premiered clip is not yet available online.

Produced by a staff of animators salvaged mainly from one of Disney's defunct European houses, Igor tells the story of the town of Malaria, where anyone with a hunchback (I can just hear the offended disabled rights' groups now) is shipped off to Igor School, where they learn to become a mad scientist's assistant. John Cusack provides the voice of the lead character, who attempts to achieve success on his own by creating his very own monster. It was written by American Dad's Chris McKenna, and directed by Anthony Leondis, who has previously worked for Disney.

Obviously, the pic is a tip of the hat to the classic Universal monster movies, which its creators admitted at the Igor panel yesterday. They also stated that they chose Weinstein as the company to work with since it would allow them to produce more dark and edgy material than a company like Disney or Dreamworks. For example, the film features a reanimated bunny that longs to be dead again, and spends most of the movie trying to kill himself. Not exactly Shrek material.

In addition to Universal, the creators also mention Rankin-Bass as a major influence, particularly the legendarily beloved Mad Monster Party. Leondis and McKenna discussed how they were going for a classic Warner Brothers type of feel--a picture that will appeal to both kids and parents.

Joining Cusack are Steve Buscemi as the voice of the rabbit, John Cleese as Igor's mad scientist master and Molly Shannon as the monster. Igor opens on September 19. Put me down as majorly intrigued.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Directed by Stephen Walker

British filmmaker, Stephen Walker, admits in the first few moments of YOUNG @ HEART that he fell in love instantly with the Massachusetts chorus of the same name the first time he saw them perform. He wasn’t lying. He loved them so much that he followed them around for seven weeks to document their rehearsal process and then edited his footage into a television documentary. As if that wasn’t enough love, he has now remade his documentary for theatrical audiences.

While Walker’s admiration may seem to border on obsession, it isn’t hard to see why the group inspired him so deeply. Young @ Heart is no ordinary singing chorus. The average age of the members is 81 and they don’t sing traditional hymns but rather punk classics by The Clash or contemporary rock ballads by Coldplay. A rigorous rehearsal schedule of three sessions a week and hours of private practice culminating in a full two act evening performance to a sold out concert hall would be demanding for trained professionals in their prime. These folks make it all look so easy but that certainly doesn’t mean it is as death is always lurking backstage. The whole thing certainly gives new meaning to lyrics like, “Should I stay or should I go?”

Though your heart goes out to the entire Young @ Heart chorus, Walker regrettably fails to inspire his audience the way the chorus does theirs. Ironically, his youth as a filmmaker undermines the experience, inciting only a hearty applause when there was clearly a standing ovation to be had.


Written by Jason Segel
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Starring Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd & Bill Hader

The writer/star of FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL, Jason Segel, is the kind of artist who isn’t afraid to let it all hang out there for everyone to see and subsequently appreciate or pick apart. He writes his pain on to the screen and isn’t afraid to get naked on the path to true understanding. In the writer’s world, naked is a fairly obvious metaphor for vulnerability but here it just means nude. And so, as Segal’s penis flaps back and forth against his painfully pale body, moments before Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) breaks up with him, the Judd Apatow movie machine unleashes its latest raw comedy from the mind of the modern male.

This particular male is Peter Bretter (Segel), a slob who can barely pick up after himself but somehow manages to maintain a serious relationship with a gorgeous actress girlfriend and holds down a job as a composer for schlock television. He’s not unattractive nor without his charms but he does raise the question as to how he ever managed to get himself this well positioned. He also has no trouble at all finding numerous beautiful women to help him take his mind off Sarah. And while forgetting Sarah Marshall proves much more complicated than Peter had hoped - it doesn’t help that they have found themselves both at the same Hawaiian resort – he can at least have the last laugh by vilifying her as a horrible human being before the credits role. Without giving too much away, he will have the option, as the sympathetic character, to walk away happy but Sarah, as the heartbreaker, has been doomed since Hester Prynne was sent to prison with that darn scarlet letter across her chest.

If I were Apatow, I would be a little tired of hearing my name being attached to all of these projects. If anything, he should make sure to have a firmer hand in the process in the future. FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL is not without the hilarity and genuine character development that his past productions have captured so poignantly but its bizarre subplots and many rushed moments make it somewhat forgettable.