Hey folks, Harry here... Mark G, the man from Germany, was at ShoWest keeping another pair of eyes out for what was cool or not, and has a very brief, sometimes excruiciatingly brief write up about stuff he saw... Well, here he is...
A couple of years ago I wrote the first report from a test screening of LOST SOULS, which I attended when I was visiting L.A., but it never got on your site.
I just came back from Vegas where I attended my third ShoWest in five years. I do live in Germany, where I work in exhibition. So in case your interested, here's my view of events (never mind my English).
Of the five independent movies showing in the Independent Showcase, I was watching WHALE RIDER and HYPNOTIC.
WHALE RIDER by Niki Caro, reminded me a lot about that British film BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM. In both movies you have a young Indian/Maori girl, which is born to play soccer/be chief of the tribe, but faces obstacles because the family is stuck with traditional values and hasn't arrived in the new millenium. But whereas BECKHAM leans more toward comedy, WHALE is more sober. If you can see only one of those movies, choose BECKHAM. But there is some serious great acting by Keisha Castle-Hughes in WHALE.
HYPNOTIC by Nick Willing and starring Goran Visnjic from E.R. fame, on the other hand, was a very pleasant surprise. If Alfred Hitchock would be still alive and directing a supernatural thriller, it would look and feel like HYPNOTIC. The movie's quite an achievement. It had the audience on the edge of their seats a couple of times and is full of suspense. Even though there are some brutal things going on, most of it is off-screen (thank god), but as Hitchcock knew, that's even worse for the spectator. Minor flaws: A cheesy false lead and an ending which won't work for everyone, but is quite clever. (As you can see, I do not like to tell anymore, so don't expect any spoilers).
Jim Sheridan presented his new (somewhat autobiographical) film IN AMERICA, which is about an Irish couple, which has to come to terms with the loss of their five year old son and moves with their two daughters to New York to start a new life. This movie is definetely a threehanker and was my favorite movie of the convention. Reallife sisters Sarah & Emma Bolger are excellent child actresses while Samantha Morton and Paddy Considine do a great job as the parents. I can see why Fox Searchlight is delaying this movie til November, because it has definetely Oscar Nominations written all over it.
FINDING NEMO, which was about 98 % finished, is pure Pixar. Always entertaining, always nice to look at. But I'm getting a little bit tired of the Pixar formula. You know: Woody rescueing Buzz in TS1, Flic (?) rescueing his tribe of ants in A BUG'S LIFE, Buzz rescueing Woody in TS2 and the Monsters rescueing that little girl in INC. So once again we have a lone hero, a clownfish who has to rescue his son Nemo. Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres were PERFECT! FINDING NEMO is better than MONSTERS INC, but still no match to the original TOY STORY.
saw the screening of ANGER MANAGEMENT. Who would have guessed, that Adam Sandler would be the straight man in this comedy, while Jack Nicholson, who clearly did that movie for the money, is doing his usual Nicholson shtick, ten times stronger. Did I laugh a couple of times? Yes, I did. Will it do lots of money? Yes, it will. Do I remember anything about the movie three days later? Not really. And if you find the set-up in THE GAME perfectly believable, than you will have no trouble accepting the one in ANGER.
I never read the Stephen King novel, but DREAMCATCHER sure felt like a King novel, and a disappointing mess. I love Lawrence Kasdan, I love William Goldman, but this time, the movie doesn't add up. You can have a good time with low expectations, but I had pretty high expectations because of Kasdan/Goldman. By the way, this was the only movie during the convention, which didn't get any applause at the end.
WHAT ABOUT THE UNIVERSAL REEL?
It looked great, every single movie looks like a moneymaker. We did see more scenes from BRUCE ALMIGHTY (quiet funny) and THE HULK (looks better than ever and has a Shakespearean Marvel Touch. In the end, Ang Lee was probably the right choice for director). I did not care to much about 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, SEABISCUIT looks like this year's ROAD TO PERDITION (Summer counterprogramming wise). The first scene from AMERICAN PIE 3 was really funny. JOHNNY ENGLISH and LOVE ACTUALLY will do most of their money in Europe. INTOLERABLE CRUELTY looks like a modern Rock Hudson/Doris Day movie, while HONEY (with Jessica Alba & Mekhi Phifer) looks like today's FLASHDANCE. THE CAT IN THE HAT looks just like THE GRINCH and that means I won't see it. The first scenes of P.J. Hogans PETER PAN look very promising, even WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (ROMANCING THE STONE meets MIDNIGHT RUN with less laughs) with The Rock and Seann William Scott looks like mindless fun. Than we had Stephen Sommers presenting some art designs for VAN HELSING.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER NEW TRAILERS?
There's the first LARA CROFT 2-preview (looks better than the first one) which will be attached to THE CORE.
THE ITALIAN JOB looked okay while TIMELINE was just a teaser. We saw the first preview of Bernardo Bertoluccis THE DREAMER, which looks like a variation of THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING. The Fox people were pretty scared with the nudity, which of course, is no problem in Europe. (In Europe sex is okay for youngsters, violence is not - ratingswise).
Then there was the S.W.A.T. trailer, which looks like typical summerfare.
Fox International did set some early dates for International Release (the U.S. release should be around the same time or two to three months earlier):
THE FANTASTIC FOUR (First Quarter 2005)
ROBOTS, the new Chris Wedge Movie (Spring 2005)
ICE AGE II (2006)
Well that's it. If some of your German readers want to read my full report (in German), they should go to MARK G. IN SIN CITY.
Keep up the good work,