Is the Dark still rising in The Seeker?

For those who may be following the saga of The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising and its ever-morphing title, I saw the film this morning — and the title of the version that I saw contains all six words.

It is not simply The Dark Is Rising — which is the title of the Susan Cooper book that the movie is based on and the title with which the movie went into production almost a year ago.

And, contrary to what at least two of my American colleagues tell me they have been told by their local publicists, it is not simply The Seeker — which was originally imposed onto the beginning of the title a couple of months ago, and was reportedly all that was left when the title was trimmed just a week or two ago.

Granted, the words “The Seeker” appear onscreen by themselves for a few seconds — but then the words “The Dark Is Rising” appear beneath them. So the full title is up there on the screen.

Is this one of those weird cases where the Canadian and American versions of a film have different titles, like what happened with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s / Sorceror’s Stone?

Or is it possible that I saw a not-quite-complete cut of the film — which would be odd, given that it comes out this Friday?

Or is it possible that, in the United States, the film’s publicity campaign is simply divorced from any consideration of what the opening credits actually say the film is called?

One other puzzling detail: I have read numerous reports over the past five months to the effect that the protagonist, Will Stanton, has been changed from an 11-year-old boy, as he is in the book, to a 13-year-old boy. But Will actually celebrates his 14th birthday within the film’s first act — just as, I gather, he celebrates his 11th birthday near the beginning of the book. So wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the movie has made him 14 years old?

Just to be clear, I am not commenting on the film itself in any way here; I am simply puzzled by the way it has been packaged (and re-packaged, and re-re-packaged) and promoted, etc.

OCT 4 UPDATE: For what it’s worth, the Variety review calls the film “The Seeker”, but then notes at the end: “Title was presented as ‘The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising’ on print caught.” Hmmm.

Yet another movie not screened for critics.

I just heard that Why Did I Get Married? will be opening next week without any press screenings. Nothing too surprising about that, since at least two previous Tyler Perry movies — Daddy’s Little Girls and Madea’s Family Reunion — were also released without being screened for critics on one or both sides of the border.

The buddy comedy turns romantic (sort of).

Justin Shubow has a fun article up at National Review on “the man-crush romantic comedy”, a genre that has emerged in recent years thanks to films like Wedding Crashers, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Superbad. Among its insights:

Having been described in these ways, there can be little doubt that the friendship at the center of all three movies follows the conventions of the romantic comedy, with the exception of the meet cute. In lacking that sort of an introduction, the movies are specifically versions of the romantic comedy of marriage, in which the central question is whether the already-existing couple can stay together.

Another convention in all three movies that is worth noting is the sexually exhausted male, spent from behavior or desire, who becomes civilized by settling down with a virtuous female. But though that theme is common to traditional romantic comedies, which are fundamentally about the transformative power of love, in these films the transition from cad to gentleman is additionally, even chiefly, made possible by the cementing of the male bond; Platonic love, too, is shown to have life-altering effects.

While of course previous buddy flicks have shared some similarities with romantic comedies, only the recent crop fully (and perhaps self-consciously) completes the genre’s checklist. Most significantly, only in these newer movies is the relationship both overtly affectionate and sealed with explicit declarations of love. Since the feelings expressed are real and not one of the jokes, the movies show themselves to be borrowings from, not parodies of, the genre. . . .

But there might be a deeper reason for the advent of the man-crush rom com. In these extremely unromantic times . . . in which serial monogamy followed by divorce-prone marriage has become the norm, living happily ever after has become a less and less believable fantasy. By contrast, “best friends forever” is not just a live possibility, it’s one that is widely lived. And when romantic relationships are impermanent, life-long friendship becomes one of our few consolations. Admittedly, such an interpretation is an awfully heavy take on light entertainment. But if one looks past the full-frontal vulgarity, even the most immature comedies might be capturing a contemporary truth: Outside the family, anyone looking for undying words of devotion might just have to settle for “I love you, man.”

A new Wallace & Gromit short is in the works!

The official website for Wallace & Gromit now has a video in which Nick Park says he is making a new half-hour film featuring these wonderful characters. (Hat tip to

UPDATE: The Variety story adds the following quotes from Park:

“I love making films for the cinema but the production of ‘Chicken Run‘ and ‘Curse of the Were-Rabbit’ were virtually back to back and each film took five years to complete, ‘Trouble At’ Mill’ will be so much quicker to make and I can’t wait to get back into production,” commented Park.

For the project, writer/director Park re-unites with Bob Baker, with whom he co-wrote “Trousers” and “Shave.”

“It’s nice to be out of that feature film pressure now. I don’t feel like I’m making a film for a kid in some suburb of America — and being told they’re not going to understand a joke, or a northern saying,” Park told the BBC.

“I’m making this for myself again and the people who love Wallace and Gromit.”

The news sites linked here also mention that the new short film will be a “murder mystery”. I wonder how literally we are supposed to take that; unless I am forgetting something, I don’t believe anyone has ever died in a Wallace & Gromit cartoon before. Hmmm.

Aliens, predators, and Christmas carols.

Just in case anyone’s interested, that Christmas-themed Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem trailer that I mentioned over a month ago — the one that uses ‘Silent Night’ — is finally online, at

The sex lives of Bible scholars!

Variety‘s Russell Edwards reviews Paul Cox’s Salvation — a movie that is apparently so new it isn’t on his IMDb page yet:

A disillusioned biblical scholar finds that getting up close and personal provides real answers to life’s questions in “Salvation,” a deliberately paced meller from veteran arthouse helmer Paul Cox. Fans of the Dutch-born, Oz-based director will embrace this wholeheartedly, but pic is unlikely to convert any new acolytes. Local release date is currently unconfirmed but, even though Cox has surprised before, commercial prospects look iffy.

HD-shot film premiered on Betacam at the Vladivostok fest, in a nod to the city that appears in flashbacks of a pivotal Russian character. Cox’s company plans a transfer to 35mm, in hopes of unspooling the pic at a higher-profile fest.

Barry (Bruce Myles), an aging, well-to-do Bible scholar and frustrated artist, is emotionally stifled by his sexless marriage to well-known Aussie televangelist Gloria (Wendy Hughes), who peddles a commercial brand of Christianity that rakes in big bucks via self-help merchandising.

To relieve his physical and intellectual frustrations, Barry begins visiting heart-of-gold hooker Irina (Natalia Novakova), a Russian emigree. Hoping to finance a return trip to see her 5-year-old daughter in Vladivostok, Irina is reliant on an aggressive Russian pimp, Anton (Alex Menglet), but comes to appreciate Barry’s mild-mannered support.

Slow-moving narrative freely detours and stalls, giving characters free rein to discuss philosophical issues. Helmer stirs in YouTube samples of President Bush’s public-speaking gaffes in an effort to lighten the mood, as well as to boost the pic’s satire of religious conservatism. . . .

I’m not very familiar with Paul Cox’s films, but I gather this is not the first one to deal with religion in some way. I don’t know if any of the others dealt with “Bible scholars”, though. And now, for some reason, I am reminded of the Canadian film When Night Is Falling (1995), which was directed by Patricia Rozema, a graduate of Calvin College (which is also Paul Schrader‘s alma mater).