Chinese Zodiac

Toni Servillo in THE GREAT BEAUTY

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Great Beauty (Criterion) Paolo Sorrentino’s almost plotless portrait of the glamorous nightlife of contemporary Rome may seem on the surface to be an obvious choice for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. After all, it quite deliberately follows the footsteps of La Dolce Vita as an ode not only to Rome’s vast history, but its history of cinematic glitz. Yet there’s a great deal going on below The Great Beauty’s exquisitely realized surface. Rather than a simple 21st century upgrade of Fellini’s Rome, The Great Beauty is an existential travelogue, a decadent and detailed portrayal of a place uncertain about how to realize its future as a definitive global city in the culture so content to rest its champagne-soaked laurels on its extensive reputation. We see Rome through the eyes of Toni Servillo’s Jep Gambardella, whose failure to produce a second novel after a monumental first success sets the stage for his engrossing tour of Rome’s beguiling but hollow surfaces. While it made nary an appearance on op-ed trendpieces on the topic, Sorrentino’s film belongs directly alongside 2013’s many portrayals of excess for an era of economic uncertainty. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautifully shot and edited exegesis on the sweet life. – Landon Palmer [Blu-ray/DVD extras:  Interviews with the director, lead actor, and screenwriter; deleted scenes; trailer; an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by Philip Lapote]

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Carrie 2013

The characters of this week’s releases are at the end of their ropes. That might even be literal for Robert Redford’s character in All Is Lost unless sailors have a different word for “rope.” And they probably do. Some of the film figures of the week are covered in blood, some have been kidnapped into slavery, some have been falsely imprisoned, some are fighting the system, and some are losing the battle against it. Desperation seems like a common theme. Of course, it’s October, so “ghosts” are another big one. And who’s more desperate than they are? There’s also a lot more going on in a week with a massive amount of movies. Here’s your trailer-ized guide to what’s coming out:

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Though his recent action-heavy output hasn’t really been blowing anybody’s hair back, Jackie Chan is undeniably a legend of action cinema, and there are quite a few reasons why his next release, Chinese Zodiac, should be greatly anticipated by fans of his classic work. Perhaps most importantly, this one should get your attention because Chan has spent the better part of the last decade putting the project – which he wrote, directed, and stars in – together, and he’s considering it his retirement from action movies. But, perhaps most obviously, Chinese Zodiac should be anticipated by adrenaline junkies because its the third and final time Chan is going to play his thief character, Asian Hawk, who he made famous in classic Chan joints Armour of God and Operation Condor. That’s not the end of this hard sell either. The latest trailer for the film reveals yet another reason action fans should put Chinese Zodiac on their radar. We already got one look at this film back in May, but that trailer was more concerned with detailing the beats of the plot (Asian Hawk needs to steal some statues, yada yada) and showcasing Chan’s trademarked fight scenes (which seem to still be pretty on point for a 58-year-old, but a bit more reliant on special effects than stunt work).

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Jackie Chan at Comic-Con

Jackie Chan‘s visit to San Diego Comic-Con proved the star to be charming, though the panel lacked considerable punch due to a lack of new footage. The panel featured the trailer to Chan’s CZ12 which is also being called Chinese Zodiac and also Armour of the Gods III. I don’t know how much sense any of those titles make, but the movie is about a thief who’s hired to steal back four missing heads of statues of the Chinese zodiac. So there’s the part that makes sense. I don’t get the 12 in CZ12 since there are only four missing heads. Oh well. Chan did mention that in two months they’d be dropping a new trailer before the film’s December release. Knowing that just bringing the same trailer wouldn’t cut it for Comic-Con, so to spice up the panel he brought his French roller-suit trainer. Roller-suit? Yeah, you know – those weirdo plastic space suits that have wheels all over them which allow you to kill yourself at 70mph by going face first into concrete. So what else did we talk about?

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What to Expect at Comic-Con 2012

Check out a preview of what the Rejects will be up to this year at the San Diego Comic-Con, beginning with SDCC virgin Brian Salisbury… Having never been to Comic-Con, in fact having never before set foot in the state of California, I can’t help but feel a tinge of trepidation as I pack for San Diego. Chief among these concerns was whether I’d even get an adequate feel of the Con on my first outing as I darted from roundtable to roundtable, from press screening to blogger party. Would I leave my first Comic Con with no legitimate understanding of what keeps people coming back year after year? It was then I decided that, as a noob, it was best to experience the convention as a fan and not an industry professional. I needed to separate these two factions of my personality, to make a clean break from the behind-the-scenes journalism aspect and the intrepid geeks who walk the floor without the benefit of credentials. That’s when the idea of wearing a mask came into the picture, to disguise myself and resist the temptation of professional perks. I will walk the floors, stand in lines for panels in the various halls, and talk geek shop with the other attendees; providing journal entries for each day. This seems doubly fitting given the amount of cosplay that I’ve heard takes place at Comic Con. I will blend in even under fantastical vestments. So what character would I choose? What hero, outlaw, […]

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Back in May, Vulture made the bold claim that Jackie Chan was done with action movies after 5 decades of making them. It was a bit premature, but it was based on a comment from Chan about how difficult and dangerous stunts had gotten at his age (and after treating his body like a ragdoll for years). It was a natural conclusion to come to – especially on the heels of his latest movie, Chinese Zodiac, where he pulled quintuple duty as actor, stunt performer, producer, writer and director. Apparently he’s not done yet. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chan is looking to star in a new action-comedy written by Jay Longino (who has a strange resume, including Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation). The goal is to find a co-star for Chan and shoot in Hong Kong, Macau, Eastern Europe and mainland China. The plot focuses on Chan’s character hunting an American gambler who owes enough money to a gang syndicate for them to hire Chan to hunt him down. To celebrate, let’s all watch Snake in Eagle’s Shadow and hope Chan makes action movies until he’s 193.

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The arrival of a new Jackie Chan trailer hasn’t really been something worth noting for a while now as the past decade of his career has been heavy with (mostly) inferior Hollywood productions. His hometown productions fared better with films like New Police Story, Little Big Soldier and Shaolin offering up some solid action alongside stronger than usual stories. But now we’ve gotten a one-two punch of Chan-related news, and both parts are equally interesting… ven if only the second half is actually welcome. Chan has announced that he’s retiring from action films. Or at least, he won’t be taking lead roles in big action movies anymore. I’ve been fighting and doing action films all my life, you’ve got to find a point to stop. With this movie I’m the director, I’m the writer, I’m the producer. So okay, I think it’s a good time to announce that it’s my last big action movie. I would still do action movies but not a big one like this.” Chinese Zodiac follows the adventures of a renowned thief/treasure hunter who’s searching for a set of ancient Chinese sculptures crafted in the likeness of the zodiac animals. The trailer fails to mention it, but Chan has previously disclosed that this is in fact the long-awaited third film in his absolutely kick-ass Armour of God series (aka Operation Condor series here in the US). Check out the trailer for what appears to be Chan’s final all-out action movie.

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