by Shane Hnetka
The summer blockbuster season is about to fill the cinemas with dazzling visuals, big-name actors, random explosions, unnecessary 3-D and other hallmarks of Hollywood’s desperate grab for filmgoers’ hard-earned cash. Meanwhile, several cool independent films languish in theatres almost unseen. Nuts to that.
RANDOM NOTES ON CINEMA
I don’t write listings for every movie playing in Regina anymore, and that’s mostly good — it often felt repetitive — but there is a downside. Small but worthy movies still get released here, but without me banging the drum in Prairie Dog’s listings they get little or no local fanfare beyond word of mouth. The Place Beyond the Pines is a perfect example: it snuck into the Galaxy and will still be playing there on May 2. The Place Beyond The Pines is a sprawling, multi-generational epic of class, crime and hardship centered around a motorcycle stuntman (Ryan Gosling) who robs banks to support his infant son and a cop surrounded by corruption. It sounds like a good film from director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine). If it sticks around, we should all check it out.
Speaking of Ryan Gosling, he’s in Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest movie, Only God Forgives, which will be released (limited I assume) on July 19, facing competition from the comic book movies Red 2 and R.I.P.D. Watching all three trailers, it’s easy to see which will be the best film — the one that’s playing at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
More trailer news: there’s finally some footage from Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi. It looks like a standard kung fu film about a fight competition, but with Reeves in it (was Ralph Macchio unavailable?). Meanwhile, Reeves’ other Asian film, 47 Ronin — a retelling of a classic samurai story — is in trouble. Universal Studios has taken the movie away from the director and is editing it themselves. Not a good sign, but then a classic Japanese story with Keanu Reeves squeezed into it isn’t a good sign to begin with. Watch the 1962 Chushingura instead.
A side note to last column’s topic: G.I. Joe: Retaliation opened with a $33 million weekend in China. It’s just weird that a U.S. army action figure film made $33 million in China. Expect another sequel set in China in the near future.
A TALE OF TWO HERCULESES
Snitch star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will be Hercules in the adaptation of the comic Hercules: The Thracian Wars. Brett Ratner is directing this 3-D extravaganza. But wait — it seems that another mediocre action director, Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2: Die Harder), is also making a Hercules movie (with the original title Hercules 3D). Kellan Lutz has been cast as Herc. All these Hercules movies! It almost feels like the era of Steve Reeves’ Hercules films, but with bigger budgets and a lot less charm.