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).

Stallone on violence in Myanmar and Rambo IV

I have no idea how seriously I want to take this — it is about a Rambo movie, after all — but for what it’s worth, the Associated Press recently spoke to Sylvester Stallone about recent events in Myanmar and Stallone’s experiences shooting John Rambo there:

Sylvester Stallone said he and his “Rambo” sequel movie crew recently witnessed the human toll of unspeakable atrocities while filming along the Myanmar border.

“I witnessed the aftermath – survivors with legs cut off and all kinds of land mine injuries, maggot-infested wounds and ears cut off. We saw many elephants with blown off legs. We hear about Vietnam and Cambodia and this was more horrific,” Stallone told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday.

Stallone returned eight days ago from shooting “John Rambo,” the fourth movie in the action series, on the Salween River separating Thailand and Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

“This is a hellhole beyond your wildest dreams,” Stallone said. “All the trails are mined. The only way into Burma is up the river.”

And this was before the crackdown last week against the largest pro-democracy protests in Myanmar in two decades. After the government increased fuel prices in August, public anger turned to mass protest against 45 years of military dictatorship. Last week, soldiers responded by opening fire with automatic weapons on unarmed demonstrators. . . .

The “Rambo” script, written long before the current Myanmar uprising, features boatman John Rambo – the Vietnam War-era Green Beret who specializes in violent rescues and revenge – taking a group of mercenaries up the Salween River in search of missing Christian aid workers in Myanmar. The character “realizes man is just a few paces away from savagery when pushed.”

“I called Soldier of Fortune magazine and they said Burma was the foremost area of human abuse on the planet,” Stallone said.

Stallone is now editing “John Rambo,” which will be released in January, and said he Is trying to strike a balance and grapple with the question, “Are you making a documentary or a ‘Rambo’ movie?”

Shots were fired over the film crew’s heads and there were threats, he said.

“We were told we could get seriously hurt if we went on,” Stallone said, adding the families of Burmese extras in the movie were imprisoned.

“I was being accused, once again, of using the Third World as a ‘Rambo’ victim. The Burmese are beautiful people. It’s the military I am portraying as cruel,” he said. . . .

Stallone also remarks that the violence in his film will be pretty intense, but he hopes it gets an R rating anyway because he doesn’t want to “whitewash” “reality”. But, um, in the footage that has already been released, most of the violence is perpetrated by Rambo himself — and isn’t violence in the service of a revenge fantasy, violence designed to rouse an audience rather than expose a horror, a form of “whitewashing”, arguably?

Pet peeve: It’s a prologue, not a prequel.

Many thanks to Gary Susman at Entertainment Weekly‘s Popwatch blog for correctly stating that Hotel Chevalier, the Wes Anderson short film that was recently made available to American iTunes customers, is a “prologue” to The Darjeeling Limited.

I have seen many, many people refer to it as a “prequel”, but it is not. A “prequel” is a sequel that takes place before the story being sequelized. And a “sequel” is a story that is told after another story.

So, for example, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) is a “prequel” to Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), because it is told later but takes place earlier. But neither of those films could possibly be a “prequel” to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), which takes place later and was told later.

Likewise, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is not a “prequel” to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, because The Hobbit was written first. However, just to complicate things, if Peter Jackson were to make a film version of The Hobbit, then it would — or at least could — be a prequel to his film version of The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), because the films told the stories in reverse.

At any rate, Hotel Chevalier was filmed a year or two before The Darjeeling Limited, and it takes place earlier, too, and it has been released earlier, as well. So, it is not a “prequel”. It cannot be.

Pixar and the recycling of ’80s / ’90s movies

Those who thought the title character in WALL-E bears a striking resemblance to Johnny Five from the Short Circuit movies (1986-1988) will no doubt have that impression deepened by the French teaser, in which WALL-E seems to crush an insect. “Error — grasshopper disassembled. Re-assemble!” Remember that bit?

So … Pixar basically remade ¡Three Amigos! (1986) as A Bug’s Life (1998), and Doc Hollywood (1991) as Cars (2006) … and those were two of their lesser films. But since Johnny Five never went to space, it stands to reason WALL-E might not be so derivative, and thus might not be as underwhelming as those other films …

Canadian box-office stats — September 30

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Sydney White — CDN $1,270,000 — N.AM $8,449,395 — 15.0%
Eastern Promises — CDN $1,670,000 — N.AM $11,281,492 — 14.8%
Across the Universe — CDN $789,169 — N.AM $5,476,433 — 14.4%
Mr. Woodcock — CDN $2,160,000 — N.AM $19,578,594 — 11.0%

Resident Evil: Extinction — CDN $3,400,000 — N.AM $36,826,411 — 9.2%
Good Luck Chuck — CDN $2,130,000 — N.AM $23,513,142 — 9.1%

The Kingdom — CDN $1,430,000 — N.AM $17,135,055 — 8.3%
The Brave One — CDN $2,470,000 — N.AM $30,834,753 — 8.0%
3:10 to Yuma — CDN $3,350,000 — N.AM $43,951,910 — 7.6%
The Game Plan — CDN $1,300,000 — N.AM $22,950,971 — 5.7%