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).

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?