Awards Season News

84th Academy Awards: Winners

The Artist won five awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, (Michael Hazanavicius) and Best Actor (Jean Dujardin).

Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) was awarded Best Actress, whilst in the supporting categories Christopher Plummer (Beginners) and Octavia Spencer (The Help) won for their respective roles.

Hugo was the big winner in the technical categories, winning Cinematography, Sound Editing and Mixing, Art Direction and Visual Effects.

The Artist also became the the first silent film to win Best Picture since Wings (1927), which won the same prize at the very first Academy Awards.

So in a year that has seen great changes as cinema shifts from celluloid to digital, there was something appropriate in the big winners being tributes to the silent era and one of its true pioneers, Georges Méliès.


Official Oscar site
> Explore the 84th Academy Awards in depth at Wikipedia

Awards Season

84th Academy Awards: Sound Mixing


As this category is closely connected to Sound Editing it is worth checking the nominees there, as they duplicate each other with the exception of Moneyball.

This award generally given to the production sound mixers and re-recording mixers of the winning film.

Normally the engineer will mix 4 main elements: speech (dialogue, ADRvoice-overs etc.), ambiencesound effects and music.






Official Oscar site
Explore previous winners of Best Sound Mixing at Wikipedia

Awards Season

84th Academy Awards: Sound Editing


The question that often comes up every year is ‘what is the difference between sound editing and sound mixing’?

In the modern era, sound editing refers to the creation of the overall sound-scape of the film, whilst sound mixing is blending of these elements together to create the final sound mix.

The award is usually received by the Supervising Sound Editors of the film, sometimes accompanied by the sound designers.

As sound in movies has evolved, so has this award, which dates back to 1963.

From that year until 2000, it was adjusted for the sound design of the winning movie, so Best Sound Effects (1963–1967, 1975), Sound Effects Editing (1977, 1981–1999) and  Sound Editing (1979, 2000–present).

The sound mixing category is the one that dates back to the early years of the Oscars.

What’s interesting about sound this year is that some of the nominees (notably Transformers 3 and War Horse) have taken advantage of Dolby’s new 7.1 surround sound.






Official Oscar site
Explore previous winners of Best Sound Editing at Wikipedia


Poster Trends: Image within Image

Poster trends are as old as the hills but this year has seen the emergence of a new motif.

Last year saw the text over face trend and in the past we have had such fashions as the red dress, back to back and the leg spread.

But amongst the the more hipper poster designs this year have seen images within images.

After designing the iconic one-sheet for The Social Network, Neil Kellerhouse has swiftly become David Fincher‘s designer of choice.

This year this poster for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo utilised Daniel Craig’s face inside Rooney Mara’s.

Ever since Sundance, Martha Marcy May Marlene has been attracting buzz and it seemed only right that not only should it follow this trend.

It seemed appropriate that another teaser poster should include a QR code for all those hipsters in Brooklyn and Shoreditch to view a trailer on their iPhones  – the film is still great though 🙂

Then if we cast our minds back to earlier in the year, there was this US one-sheet for Jane Eyre, which like the film was tasteful and stylish.

I especially like the big but thin font and colour palette on this one.

As for Michael Fassbender, he also featured in X-Men: First Class, which had a character teaser poster which utilised the image within image idea.

This time it was his younger Magneto in a silhouette of the character comic-book fans are familair with.

Did you notice any other posters that used this trend this year?

> IMP Awards
> Film on Paper

Cinema Reviews

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher brings his full digital armoury to Stieg Larsson‘s bestseller and the result is a masterful adaptation hampered only by the limitations of the source material.

When journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is hired by the patriarch of a rich Swedish family (Christopher Plummer) to investigate the disappearance of a family member in the 1960s, he eventually crosses paths with computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) as they gradually uncover a web of intrigue in a society with many dark secrets.

Major Hollywood studios have shied away from making adult dramas in recent years, so Sony giving a director free reign on dark tale of conspiracy, rape and murder represented something of a risk.

But the original novel triggered one of publishing phenomenons of last decade, which spawned a Swedish produced trilogy of films and now the inevitable Hollywood remake.

Inevitable is perhaps a misleading word, because although it was highly likely they would produce a version, one might have expected that they would tone down the darker elements of the book to appeal to a wider audience.

But given that the mix of graphic sexual violence and conspiracy plays such a large part in their appeal, Sony and MGM faced a quandary.

Do they dilute them down to a PG-13 and risk a fan backlash?

Or create that rare thing in the modern era, a wide release for adult audience?

They opted for the latter and recruited none other than director David Fincher, who had just made The Social Network for the studio and has a track record of police procedural thrillers.

It just so happens that the end result contains elements of Seven (a serial killer movie with gothic elements), Zodiac (a slow burn drama that looks into the mystery of the past) and the aforementioned The Social Network (the story of an outsider who uses technology to outwit people).

From the startling opening credits, it is clear that we are in Fincher-land: the impeccable compositions, polished design, razor-sharp visuals and haunted protagonists all feel a natural part of his filmmaking landscape.

Ever since Zodiac, Fincher has been on the forefront of digital cinematography and Jeff Cronenweth’s visuals here are stunning, with the wintry terrain of Sweden providing a frequently beautiful counterpoint to the darker interior scenes.

The screenplay by Steven Zaillian does a highly effective job at compressing the sprawling strands of the novel into a coherent whole.

Those familiar with the book might know that Salander and Mikael are kept apart for a large part of the story and the resulting investigation involves a raft of supporting characters as the elusive history of the Vanger family slowly emerges.

Zaillian has largely stayed faithful to the book, but also added some welcome improvements – especially in the latter stages – whilst the editing by Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter is remarkably precise and efficient in keeping the story moving.

The wonderfully atmospheric score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross somehow manages to evoke the chilly physical and psychological terrains of the story, whilst also blending in with Ren Klyce’s immersive sound design.

Before filming began much attention was focused on who would get the coveted role of Lisbeth Salander and Rooney Mara delivers a powerful performance in what is a challenging role, both mentally and physically.

Daniel Craig conveys a certain rugged charm as Blomkvist and when they finally get together their unlikely chemistry clicks into place nicely, bridging the gender and generational divide which have been a large part of the book’s global appeal.

The illustrious supporting cast also do solid work: Plummer is wholly believable as the head of the Vanger clan; Stellan Skarsgard is sly and charming as his son; whilst actors like Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Joely Richardson and Geraldine James expertly fill out key smaller roles.

All of these elements are marshalled with military precision by Fincher, who has delivered a technically brilliant adaptation of the source material, which should satisfy the global fanbase.

There is a noble tradition of pulpy best sellers becoming classic movies (Psycho, The Godfather and Jaws) and this version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo represents an interesting example of transferring words to screen.

However, there remains a sense that this whole exercise is a bit like fitting a Ferrari engine into a Volvo: isn’t the army of A-list talent assembled here vastly superior to Larsson’s potboiler?

Although it deals with interesting issues which Hollywood rarely touches – violence towards women, the insidious nature of right-wing politics in supposedly liberal countries – it nevertheless follows the crime fiction template right down to the letter.

This is not to say that mainstream fiction cannot raise interesting issues as the book certainly tapped into the zeitgeist of corruption has pervaded the West in the last few years, whilst Larsson’s untimely death in 2004 helped fuel the mystique even further.

Recent events involving journalism scandals (Hackgate), computer hackers (recent Wikileaks revelations) and even far-right murder in Scandinavia (Norway attacks) seem only to have enhanced the potent brew of crime, violence and institutionalised corruption that lies at the heart of the Millennium trilogy.

But the material upon which this film is based feels like a series of plot points squeezed into a tight-fitting story, with hardly any breathing space left after the multiple revelations and plot twists.

Readers have been presumably drawn precisely because of this mix of page-turning intrigue but I suspect what really took it to another level of popularity was the central combination of regular male hero and strikingly unusual female anti-hero.

But after the books and Swedish produced film trilogy, how much appetite is there for this?

I suspect that a major global release like this will make significant money, although whether enough to justify further films remains to be seen.

For a filmmaker like Fincher, who has crafted two ground-breaking police thrillers in Seven and Zodiac, the fundamental material inevitably feels something of a step down for him, like asking a renaissance master to draw in crayon.

It is to his credit that the end result is an invigorating entertainment and a curiously timely blockbuster for Christmas 2011, as we reflect on what a dark and corrupt place the world has become.

> Official site and Mouth Taped Shut
> Reviews at Metacritic
> More on Stieg Larsson and the original Millenium series
> Interesting article on the 4K production pipeline used on the film

Interesting Viral Video

Dragon Tattoo Hard Copy Viral

As part of the viral campaign for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Sony have released an ingenious recreation of a 1990s TV show.

It has never ceased to amaze me how badly big budget movies have traditionally executed on screen news graphics (e.g. that ‘news report’ during climax of Spiderman 3).

But David Fincher isn’t the kind of director to allow sloppy visuals into his movies.

Even if he just oversaw it, his noted perfectionism and knowledge of various video formats may have influenced the final result, due to his extensive work in commercials and music videos since the 1980s.

So perhaps that was why this fantastic recreation of Hard Copy appeared on YouTube recently:

Those who have read the book, or seen the Swedish film, will note how events from the plot are woven into the news segment.

But check out the audio and visual fidelity to the original show.

It appears the look they were going for was a VHS copy recorded to TV, transferred to a computer and then uploaded to YouTube – note the tracking lines and period commercials.

Digital editing programs now it easier to recreate this older look but it is still an impressive feat, along with some (possible) Easter eggs for the eagle-eyed.

If you want to compare it with the actual show, check out this actual clip from September 1989:

If you don’t remember it, Hard Copy was a US tabloid news show that ran from 1989 to 1999.

Like a sleazy tabloid cousin of 60 Minutes, it wasn’t afraid of sneaky tactics and attracted controversy due its airing of violent material.

In short, a perfect fit for the dark world of Steig Larsson‘s book.

Note that the channel is called Mouth Taped Shut, which is also the blog which has been hosting various production photos and viral tidbits.

One intriguing episode of Hard Copy was their investigation into the notorious Nine Inch Nails video for Down In It:

Given that NIN frontman Trent Reznor is actually scoring Fincher’s new film, was this whole concept inspired by his past appearance on the show?

It’s a very effective viral campaign but also suprisingly mischievous and playful – a bit like Fincher and Reznor perhaps?

> Mouth Taped Shut
> Details on the soundtrack
> More on the Stieg Larsson novel and Hard Copy at Wikipedia

music Soundtracks

Dragon Tattoo Soundtrack Sampler

Trent Reznor recently released details and samples from his upcoming score to David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

On his official website, he wrote:

For the last fourteen months Atticus and I have been hard at work on David Fincher’s “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”. We laughed, we cried, we lost our minds and in the process made some of the most beautiful and disturbing music of our careers. The result is a sprawling three-hour opus that I am happy to announce is available for pre-order right now for as low as $11.99. The full release will be available in one week – December 9th.

You have two options right now:

VIsit iTunes here where you can immediately download Karen O’s and our version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” when you pre-order the soundtrack for $11.99.

You can also check it on soundcloud and also see how popular it is by checking the number of plays. click here for more info if you want to know how to get more soundcloud plays for your music.

You will also be able to exclusively watch the legendary 8-minute trailer you may have heard about (no purchase necessary obviously). We scored this trailer separately from the film, BTW.


Visit our store here. We’re offering a variety of purchasing options including multiple format high-quality digital files, CDs and a really nice limited edition deluxe package containing vinyl and a flash drive.

In addition, RIGHT NOW you can download a six-track, 35 minute sampler with no purchase necessary.

You can also listen to selected tracks here:

Dragon Tattoo Sampler by ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

The full track listing is:

1. Immigrant Song
2. She Reminds Me Of You
3. People Lie All The Time
4. Pinned and Mounted
5. Perihelion
6. What If We Could?
7. With the Flies
8. Hidden In Snow
9. A Thousand Details
10. One Particular Moment
11. I Can’t Take It Anymore
12. How Brittle The Bones
13. Please Take Your Hand Away
14. Cut Into Pieces
15. The Splinter
16. An Itch
17. Hypomania
18. Under the Midnight Sun
19. Aphelion
20. You’re Here
21. The Same As the Others
22. A Pause for Reflection
23. While Waiting
24. The Seconds Drag
25. Later Into the Night
26. Parallel Timeline (Alternate Outcome)
27. Another Way of Caring
28. A Viable Construct
29. Revealed In the Thaw
30. Millenia
31. We Could Wait Forever
32. Oraculum
33. Great Bird of Prey
34. The Heretics
35. A Pair of Doves
36. Infiltrator
37. The Sound Of Forgetting
38. Of Secrets
39. Is Your Love Strong Enough?

Sony also recently released this 8-minute trailer, which is quite an interesting thing to do before a major release like this:

The film opens in the UK on Boxing Day.

Official site
> Trent Reznor


The Review Which Broke The Embargo

The recent flap about The New Yorker running an early review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo reveals the perils facing studios in the modern age.

I realise that with the global economy in meltdown and news of an earth-like planet being discovered this is relatively unimportant in the wider scheme of things, but it does shed light on how big films get released and critical conversations are ‘managed’ in the age of 24/7 media.

Outside media circles the concept of a news embargo is likely to be met with confusion or perhaps a yawn, so let’s go to Wikipedia for a quick definition:

“In journalism and public relations, a news embargo or press embargo is a request by a source that the information or news provided by that source not be published until a certain date or certain conditions have been met. The understanding is that if the embargo is broken by reporting before then, the source will retaliate by restricting access to further information by that journalist or his publication, giving them a long-term disadvantage relative to more cooperative outlets.

They are often used by businesses making a product announcement, by medical journals, and by government officials announcing policy initiatives; the media is given advance knowledge of details being held secret so that reports can be prepared to coincide with the announcement date and yet still meet press time. In theory, press embargoes reduce inaccuracy in the reporting of breaking stories by reducing the incentive for journalists to cut corners in hopes of “scooping” the competition.”

So, let’s remember that embargoes aren’t unique to the film industry.

If you’ve seen the documentary Page One, you’ll see the extraordinary spectacle of the New York Times newsroom debating what do when the US government effectively embargoed the news that (most) US troops were pulling out of Iraq.

NBC got the TV scoop, whilst the Times decided to run nothing the next day – prompting the existential news question, ‘does story really exist if the New York Times ignores it’?

Think about the daily news cycle.

Stories in broadcast, print or online outlets rarely just magically appear, there are normally placed (via press release, background leak or interview) and processed (by editors and journalists) for a specific reason.

When it comes to mainstream film releases, studios or distributors usually have screenings for different outlets in the run up to release so they can run features and reviews.

In the UK, these screenings usually break down into three kinds: long lead (for publications that need more time due to publishing constraints), broadcast and online (often nearer the release date) and a national press show (often the Monday or Tuesday before release).

Generally speaking, the distributor will adjust the number of screenings depending on the type of film release and in the last decade as the web became more pervasive, more stringent measures were employed to stop the leaking of advance reactions.

For a big budget release there will be a couple of big screenings and a national press show; for a lower budget film (which needs media attention and awareness) they may screen it more in order to drum up interest; whilst for a real stinker they may not even screen it at all and just rely on marketing.

Which brings us to embargoes – which is when a studio gets a journalist to sign a piece of paper saying they will not run their review until a certain date.

From the studio point of view they have invited someone to view a film for free and want to be able to control the media message.

Why do journalists agree to this?

For the critic or outlet it is seductive because they usually want to see the film in question and are prepared to pay the small price for honouring what is essentially a “gentleman’s agreement”.

Most go along with it because they reason that they could just refuse to see the advance screening or that they could be refused future screenings from that studio or distributor.

My personal take is that if you make a promise, you should stick to it. If you don’t want to sign an embargo, then don’t attend the screening.

But this is not to say that the whole business brings up valid questions.

Is it just a simple case of honouring a simple agreement? Or are big companies controlling the media message too much?

And what about those cases where critics have broken an embargo with a positive review, only to have the studio effectively wink at them and do nothing?

Recently Christopher Tookey published a review of War Horse, even though other critics aren’t allowed to do so until December 25th.

Is there consistency on which outlets get to publish before others?

Let’s go back to that Wikipedia entry for a second:

“News organizations sometimes break embargoes and report information before the embargo expires, either accidentally (due to miscommunication in the newsroom) or intentionally (to get the jump on their competitors). Breaking an embargo is typically considered a serious breach of trust and can result in the source barring the offending news outlet from receiving advance information for a long period of time”

This gives you an idea of the grey area that exists as both parties can benefit (or not) depending on the situation, which brings us to the case of The New Yorker’s unofficial early review of David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

This is one of those occasions in Hollywood where a major studio (Sony Pictures) has recruited A-list quality talent (producer Scott Rudin and director David Fincher) to make a movie of a bestselling novel (Stieg Larsson’s dark tale of conspiracy and murder).

But this isn’t a usual mainstream release by any means – it is dark material for a big studio and will almost certainly be R-rated due to the sexual content and violence.

Generally studios shy away from making expensive R-rated films as the potential audience is limited – the only R-rated blockbusters in recent times were 300 (an action film made for a reasonable budget), The Passion of the Christ (a complete one-off made outside the studio system) and The Hangover (a dark horse comedy made for relatively low price).

You would have to go back to 2003 for a comparable R-rated film, when Warner Bros released The Matrix Reloaded and even that had the safety blanket of being a sequel to a suprise hit.

On the face of it, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo seems like a slam-dunk: killer talent behind the camera, enormously popular source material and a massive global release on December 21st.

But now is exactly the time studio executives get nervous as they start to get the early audience research in, tweak their final marketing push and ponder everything that could possibly go wrong.

What if it’s too dark? Will audiences want to see rape, murder and Swedish conspiracies (in English accents!) for their Christmas trip to the cinema?

A marketing campaign for a film like this can be enormously expensive and is almost like a military operation, with print ads, TV spots and online elements that have to be co-ordinated months in advance.

Nearer to the release, the most expensive element is often TV spots which carry one line (or sometimes one-word) reviews of the film in question and these have to take into consideration the first wave of positive reviews.

Which brings us back to the question facing the studio and producers: how do you handle the media screenings?

After all, once a couple of reviews hit the web, others will expect to follow suit.

So far the screening strategy has been selective, in order to build buzz and screen it to critics groups so as to possibly make their end-of-year lists.

Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere was one of the chosen few to see it and wrote recently:

“Dragon Tattoo was screened last Monday for the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review and to a select group of Los Angeles-based Fincher fanboys. It was then shown to a small group of critics and columnists (including myself) last Friday morning at Sony’s L.A. lot.”

So far, so normal.

Then a review went live and broke the embargo.

Was this a rogue blogger who tweeted his negative review, before doing a YouTube video that then went viral on Facebook?

No, it was a positive review from that most august of old media institutions, The New Yorker.

On Sunday Deadline – a site read by most movers and shakers in Hollywood – published a post titled “So What If David Denby Broke Sony/Scott Rudin’s ‘Dragon Tattoo’ Embargo? Fuck It!“, which laid out the gory details including the letter Sony had sent out to other journalists reminding them not to review early:

Embargoes are dumbass, and even more so when they involve matters of no consequence like showbiz. And still more so when the movie review at issue was positive like David Denby’s critique of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in The New Yorker. In my opinion, no film reviewer should ever agree to embargoes because doing what the studios want is a slippery slope. It’s just a short hop to becoming part of Hollywood’s publicity machine. In this case, producer Scott Rudin is the biggest baby on the planet. (Remember how, when The Social Network began losing to The King’s Speech last awards season, he stopped attending every honoring ceremony including the Oscars? No class.) And Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Amy Pascal on the phone just now told me the studio has been “wrestling” with this since Friday night. Yet she couldn’t explain why these embargoes are even necessary or this villification of Denby, who happens to be my favorite film critic, is even warranted. I asked if the review is good. She answered that she’d heard it was. So what’s the problem? Heaven help us when the studios finally succeed in controlling all media… Here’s the letter which Sony sent out at 2 AM:

Dear Colleague,

All who attended screenings of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo agreed in writing to withhold reviews until closer to the date of the film’s worldwide release date. Regrettably, one of your colleagues, David Denby of The New Yorker, has decided to break his agreement and will run his review on Monday, December 5th. This embargo violation is completely unacceptable.

By allowing critics to see films early, at different times, embargo dates level the playing field and enable reviews to run within the films’ primary release window, when audiences are most interested. As a matter of principle, the New Yorker’s breach violates a trust and undermines a system designed to help journalists do their job and serve their readers. We have been speaking directly with The New Yorker about this matter and expect to take measures to ensure this kind of violation does not occur again.

In the meantime, we have every intention of maintaining the embargo in place and we want to remind you that reviews may not be published prior to December 13th.

We urge all who have been given the opportunity to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo to honor the commitments agreed to as a condition of having early access to the film.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


Andre Caraco, Executive Vice President, Motion Picture Publicity
Sony Pictures Entertainment

The Playlist then published an email exchange between Denby and Rudin, which shed more light on the affair:

—–Original Message—–
From: Scott Rudin
Sent: Sat 12/3/2011 12:08 AM
To: Denby, David
You’re going to break the review embargo on Dragon Tattoo? I’m stunned that you of all people would even entertain doing this. It’s a very, very damaging move and a total contravention of what you agreed. You’re an honorable man.

From: Denby, David
Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2011 11:19 AM
To: Scott Rudin
Subject: RE:

Dear Scott:
Scott, I know Fincher was working on the picture up to the last minute, but the yearly schedule is gauged to have many big movies come out at the end of the year.
The system is destructive: Grown-ups are ignored for much of the year, cast out like downsized workers, and then given eight good movies all at once in the last five weeks of the year. A magazine like “The New Yorker” has to cope as best as it can with a nutty release schedule. It was not my intention to break the embargo, and I never would have done it with a negative review. But since I liked the movie, we came reluctantly to the decision to go with early publication for the following reasons, which I have also sent to Seth Fradkoff:

1) The jam-up of important films makes it very hard on magazines. We don’t want to run a bunch of tiny reviews at Christmas. That’s not what “The New Yorker” is about. Anthony and I don’t want to write them that way, and our readers don’t want to read them that way.

2) Like many weeklies, we do a double issue at the end of the year, at this crucial time. This exacerbates the problem.

3) The New York Film Critics Circle, in its wisdom, decided to move up its voting meeting, as you well know, to November 29, something Owen Gleiberman and I furiously opposed, getting nowhere. We thought the early date was idiotic, and we’re in favor of returning it to something like December 8 next year. In any case, the early vote forced the early screening of “Dragon Tattoo.” So we had a dilemma: What to put in the magazine on December 5? Certainly not “We Bought the Zoo,” or whatever it’s called. If we held everything serious, we would be coming out on Christmas-season movies until mid-January. We had to get something serious in the magazine. So reluctantly, we went early with “Dragon,” which I called “mesmerizing.” I apologize for the breach of the embargo. It won’t happen again. But this was a special case brought on by year-end madness.

In any case, congratulations for producing another good movie. I look forward to the Daldry.

Best, David Denby

From: Scott Rudin
Date: Sat, 3 Dec 2011 13:04:32 -0500
To: David Denby
Subject: Re:
I appreciate all of this, David, but you simply have to be good for your word. Your seeing the movie was conditional on your honoring the embargo, which you agreed to do. The needs of the magazine cannot trump your word. The fact that the review is good is immaterial, as I suspect you know. You’ve very badly damaged the movie by doing this, and I could not in good conscience invite you to see another movie of mine again, Daldry or otherwise. I can’t ignore this, and I expect that you wouldn’t either if the situation were reversed. I’m really not interested in why you did this except that you did — and you must at least own that, purely and simply, you broke your word to us and that that is a deeply lousy and immoral thing to have done. If you weren’t prepared to honor the embargo, you should have done the honorable thing and said so before you accepted the invitation. The glut of Christmas movies is not news to you, and to pretend otherwise is simply disingenuous. You will now cause ALL of the other reviews to run a month before the release of the movie, and that is a deeply destructive thing to have done simply because you’re disdainful of We Bought a Zoo. Why am I meant to care about that??? Come on…that’s nonsense, and you know it.

The immediate question hanging over this is who deliberately leaked this email exchange?

But aside from that it also reveals some interesting points.

Although it’s slightly – if not completely – off-point, Denby brings up the problems posed by the end-of-year crush of movies looking for awards season consideration.

Meanwhile there’s something magnificently ballsy about Rudin fighting his corner and principles.

He’s arguably the producer of his generation, with an unmatched record for making quality films inside the studio system, and there’s something admirable about him going to bat for his film and the studio who stumped up the cash for it.

A little part of me suspects this could all be part of a cunning strategy to get the media elite talking about this film.

Think back to last year and the masterful marketing campaign Sony and Rudin ran for The Social Network.

No-one from Sony publicly complained (to my knowledge) when Scott Foundas broke the embargo with a positive review then, so how is Denby any different?

In a strange way, the marketing challenge for this Fincher film is reversed: with The Social Network it was getting a mainstream audience to go and see a film about Facebook, whilst with Dragon Tattoo mainstream interest is assured and maybe the challenge is getting upscale audiences convinced of its artistic merits for awards season consideration.

Did Denby and his editors run the review for attention?

Given that it was only available in the digital edition of the New Yorker, was it a cunning ruse to drive more traffic to their iPad subscriptions? (Even though it has already been duplicated online here)

Did Rudin deliberately pick a loud fight to drum up interest as part of an ingenious marketing campaign?

Let’s also remember the brilliant first teaser trailer was rumoured to be leaked from the studio before being pulled after a few days (and thousands of views on YouTube) – in order to add to its viral ‘authenticity’.

Let’s not forget the Tumblr production blog Mouth-Taped-Shut, which has been nothing short of genius.

My personal theory is that Rudin is genuinely angry as he wasn’t expecting The New Yorker (of all places) to break the embargo and this could screw up the latter stages of the campaign, which can be so crucial and financially costly (although the kerfuffle could actually work to the film’s benefit).

A director who has made two films with Sony once told me that an overlooked part of studios greenlighting a film is the basic question:

“Is your marketing department excited about selling the movie?”

But whatever the truth or final box office numbers of the film, it highlights the tensions between media and studios in the Internet age.

Are embargoes realistic in an age of social media and endless duplication of digital chatter?

Or are they part of a game which both parties feel they have to play in order to drum up interest in their respective businesses to the wider public?

I’m not sure anyone has definitive answers to these questions, but let’s finish with another open question.

If studios never screened any films for critics – with outlets covering the cost of tickets – how would this affect reviews?

> Official site
> Deadline on the leaked review
> The Playlist on the leaked email exchange
> Mouth Taped Shut


Trailer: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

This is the latest trailer for David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which opens on December 21st.

<a href=";IID=1&#038;videoid=711ed3f0-7b20-9609-c37f-de9511616b9a&#038;autoplayvideo=true&#038;renderhtmlasattribute=false&#038;id=ux1_2_1&#038;src=v5:embed::" target="_new" title="The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Exclusive Trailer">Video: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo &#8211; Exclusive Trailer</a>

Note the electronic score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and the digital cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth.

For some reason Sony have given the exclusive to MSN but if the above embed is giving you problems then just check it out at Apple Trailers or YouTube.


The Studio with the Leaked Trailer?

Was the leaked trailer for David Fincher’s remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo the first stage of a clever marketing campaign?

The first I heard of it was an official email on Friday morning telling me that the TV debut of the trailer would be Thursday 2nd June.

All this is pretty standard stuff for a major studio announcing the first look at a major production (this is Sony’s big film for Christmas).

But then over the weekend a bootleg version of the trailer popped up on YouTube and began lighting up on people’s Twitter feeds.

Set to a funky cover version of Led Zeppelin‘s Immigrant Song performed by Trent Reznor and Karen O, it’s one of the most striking and stylish teasers for a big studio film I’ve seen in quite some time.

Notice the quick cutting (there seems to be a rhythm of one edit per second), the dark Seven-style vibe and big, blocky fonts at the end which spell the fantastic tagline of “The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas”.

It feels like Fincher had a hand in personally supervising this, but how did it end up online? More to the point, how does a bootlegged trailer shot in a cinema sound so good?

Could it be the first step in Sony’s marketing push for this film?

(Let’s also not forget that one of the main characters is a computer hacker, so maybe the idea of an unofficial bootleg trailer fits in with the mood of the story).

> More on the upcoming Fincher version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
> Entertainment Weekly with their take on the trailer


The Wikileaks Network

David Fincher recently completed a film about Facebook (The Social Network) and is currently in Sweden shooting a conspiracy thriller (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo).

Think about it: computer hackersSweden and intrigue.

Maybe his next film should be about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange? 🙂

> The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) at the IMDb
> More on the recent leaking of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks at Wikipedia

DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 19th July 2010



The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Momentum Pictures): The adaptation of the bestselling novel by Steig Larsson sees a discredited journalist (Mikael Blomkvist) and a mysterious computer hacker (Harriet Vanger) uncover dark secrets about a wealthy family, whilst trying to solve a 40 year-old murder.

The Millennium Trilogy of novels has been one of the publishing phenomenons of the last few years, so much so that a Hollywood remake with David Fincher directing is in the works.

This is the first of the Swedish films and is an absorbing story, even though some of the darker elements make take unsuspecting audiences by surprise.

Danish director Niels Arden Oplev keeps up the suspense and intrigue over the 151 minute running time and the two leads do a solid job of translating their characters from page to screen.

Extras included on the DVD and Blu-ray include:

  • Interview with actress Noomi Rapace by Anwar Brett (12:30)
  • Interview with producer Søren Stærmose by Anwar Brett (11:49)
  • UK Theatrical trailer (1:35)
  • Exclusive Sneak Peek of The Girl Who Played With Fire (5:28 – trailer – 1:14)
  • Photo Gallery
  • Vanger Family Tree
  • Book advert
  • Separate DVD of the film

The forthcoming Swedish films in the trilogy are The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.

> Buy The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on Blu-ray from Amazon UK
> Find out more about The Millennium Trilogy at Wikipedia

Tokyo Story (BFI): The most famous and acclaimed film from Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu is a moving family drama about a married couple (played by Chishu Ryu and Chieko Higashiyama) who visit their grown children in Tokyo only to find their offspring too absorbed in their own lives to spend much time with them.

Exploring family relations, regret and the difficulties of life in a nuanced way Ozu crafted a film that has gathered enormous momentum down the years.

Partly this is down to the distinctively sparse style of Ozu’s camera work (he loves stillness and stationary shots) but it is also because the themes explored have a timeless poignancy.

Added to this is the backdrop of 1950s Japan which had only just emerged from the devastation of World War II which gives it a distinctively bittersweet flavour.

The film is usually included on more serious critics polls, so the its UK debut on Blu-ray from the BFI is a fairly big deal for serious cinema fans.

This is a dual disc version that includes the Blu-ray and DVD disc also contains a liner notes booklet with an essay by Professor Joan Mellen and Ozu biographer Tony Rayns.

Extra Features:

  • Dual Format Edition: includes both Blu-ray and the DVD versions of the main feature
  • Also contains full length Ozu feature, Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family (DVD only)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Extensive illustrated booklet featuring essays and film notes
  • Dolby Digital mono audio (320 kbps)

> Buy Tokyo Story on Blu-ray from Amazon UK
> Tokyo Story at the IMDb

Cameraman: The Jack Cardiff Story (Optimum Releasing): A new documentary from director Craig McCall explores the career of Jack Cardiff, one of Britain’s most famous cinematographers.

With a life that spanned the development of cinema, taking in silent film and the advent of Technicolor cinematographer Cardiff worked with luminaries such as Michael Powell, John Huston, Alfred Hitchcock, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn.

On films such as A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947), The Red Shoes (1948) and The African Queen (1951) he established himself as a world class talent and in 2001 he became the first cinematographer to receive an honorary, Lifetime Achievement Oscar® for:

“Exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences; and for outstanding services to the Academy.”

Director Craig McCall has been working on this documentary for several years, interviewing Jack himself (who passed away last year) and various admirers including Martin Scorsese, Thelma Schoonmaker, Kathleen Byron, Kim Hunter, Moira Shearer, John Mills, Lauren Bacall, Charlton Heston and Kirk Douglas.

Extras on the DVD include the following:

  • Interview With Craig McCall by Ian Christie (12:50)
  • Jack’s Actress Portraits (3:59)
  • Jack’s Behind-The-Scenes Movies (9:59)
  • Cinematographer and Director Relationship (11:33)
  • Working With Three-Strip Technicolor (4:51)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:00)
  • Photo Galleries
  • Production Stills

> Buy Cameraman: The Jack Cardiff Story on DVD from Amazon UK
> Listen to our interview with Craig McCall about Camerman: The Jack Cardiff Story



Chloe (Optimum Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Donnie Darko: The Original and the Director’s Cut (Metrodome Distribution) [Blu-ray]
Early Summer (BFI) [Blu-ray with DVD]
Late Spring (BFI) [Blu-ray with DVD]
Nanny McPhee (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray]
Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray with DVD]
The Crazies (Momentum Pictures) [Blu-ray / DVD]
The Karate Kid (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [Blu-ray]
The Karate Kid 2 (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [Blu-ray]

> UK cinema releases for Friday 16th July 2010 including Inception
> Browse previous DVD and Blu-ray picks


UK Cinema Releases: Friday 12th March 2010



Green Zone (Universal): The latest thriller from director Paul Greengrass is set in post-invasion Iraq during 2003 and follows a US officer (Matt Damon) assigned to hunt down the Weapons of Mass Destruction the Bush administration believed Saddam Hussein had hidden. As the weapons fail to turn up he begins to suspect something is wrong and doubt the premise upon which the war was fought.

In his search he comes across the newly arrived US Administrator of Iraq (Greg Kinnear); a CIA agent (Brendan Gleeson); a Wall Street Journal reporter (Amy Ryan); a local Iraqi (Khalid Abdalla); and a special forces Major (Jason Isaacs). Although a pulsating and technically brilliant thriller, the political subtext of the film is somewhat undermined by changing of names and details for legal reasons. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide / 15] (Previews from March 10th)

* Read my full thoughts on Green Zone here *

Shutter Island (Paramount): Director Martin Scorcese follows The Departed (2006) with an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel about a US Marshall (Leonardo DiCaprio) sent to investigate strange goings on at a secure psychiatric hospital off the coast of Massachusetts. Haunted by his past, he finds it difficult to trust the chief psychiatrist (Ben Kingsley) and slowly begins to suspect that something is afoot.

Although the performances are all solid and the technical aspects first rate, the underlying premise of the story feels an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Appropriately it references Hitchcock a lot (especially Vertigo), but never reaches the heights of Scorcese’s finest work, even if that is far better than most living directors. [Vue West End & Nationwide / 15]

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (Entertainment): A US remake of the Japanese film Hachikō Monogatari directed by Lasse Hallström (who also made My Life As A Dog) starring Richard Gere as a college professor who has a special bond with an abandoned dog he takes into his home.

It went straight to DVD in the US but UK distributor Entertainment will be hoping that dog lovers and those looking for lighter fare this week will check it out. [Nationwide / U]



The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Momentum Pictures): Based on the first of a series of best-selling Swedish novels by the late Stieg Larsson, this sees a journalist (Michael Nyqvist) and a teenage hacker (Noomi Rapace) team up to solve a suspected murder, which could be part of a wider conspiracy.

The books have become a sensation around the globe, selling over 21 million copies worldwide. The fact that the film is in Swedish, will inevitably mean reduced earnings but could still do decent arthouse and crossover business for Momentum. The inevitable Hollywood remake is already in the works and that probably will make more of an impact at the global box office. [Curzon Mayfair, Vue West End & Nationwide / 18]

The Kreutzer Sonata (Axiom Films): Following on from ivansxtc (2002) director Bernard Rose has done another re-imagining of a Tolstoy story exploring the darker side of Hollywood. The second of a planned trilogy, this sees a wealthy philanthropist (Danny Huston), who meets a beautiful and talented pianist (Elisabeth Röhm). [Key Cities / 18] (Scotland from March 26th)

The Ape (ICA Films): A Swedish noir film about an unsympathetic man who wakes up in a bathroom covered in blood and slowly realise what horrific circumstances brought him there. [ICA Cinema]

Under Great White Northern Lights (More2Screen): A concert film featuring The White Stripes. [Key Cities]

DVD and Blu-ray Picks for Monday 8th March including An Education, Bright Star, Toy Story 1 & 2 and Afterschool
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