With the highly-anticipated release of two King Hu masterpieces on home video by the Masters of Cinema organization, as well as the critical success of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin last year, it seems like the wuxia film is making some inroads into the Western critical consciousness. So I thought I’d put together a guide to some of the essential films of the genre. - 30 Essential Wuxia Films
It's one of the great literary tragedies of our age that Lord of the Rings, not its sprightlier prequel, served as the blueprint for modern fantasy. Returning to The Hobbit is like visiting a lost world, one which 20th century fantasy left behind. It’s almost surprising in how much fun it is compared to the exhausting trudges that followed. So with the third and final Hobbit film now upon us, it’s worth asking: why was it Lord of the Rings, not this sprightlier prequel, which served as the blueprint for modern high fantasy?
A New Wave of Black Filmmaking: Experimental and Black Speculative Indie Films "A brief survey of the contemporary Black independent film scene yields a long and ever-growing list of experimental and Black speculative (including horror, Afrofuturism, sci-fi, fantasy, fan fiction) short cinema, film trailers, music videos and other projects. (/The Atlanta Black Star) [more inside]
Kichwateli (Kenya, 2011; 07:46), The Day They Came (Nigeria, 2013; 03:59), The Tale of How (South Africa, 2006; 04:28; previously), Alive in Joburg (South Africa, 2006; 06:22; previously), Umkhungo (South Africa, 2010; 30:34; trailer alt. link), Evolve (Egypt, 2014; 24:17), Mwansa the Great (Zambia, 2011; 23:11; two trailers as alt. links), and Pumzi (Kenya, 2009; 21:51): eight short works of SF/fantasy via The Skiffy and Fanty Show.
Is Saving Mr. Banks, Disney's retelling of the events surrounding the adaptation of Mary Poppins a corporate, borderline-sexist spoonful of lies which throws author P. L. Travers under the bus?
Terry Gilliam fans are patiently waiting for the release of "The Zero Theorem", his first film in four years. In the meantime, let's go back thirty years ago to the moment that Gilliam really found his footing as a director in between the filming of "Time Bandits" and "Brazil". It all concerns a bunch of elderly accountants... [more inside]
How, against all odds, Time Bandits got made. Somehow in the face of a universe that seems dead set against it Terry Gilliam continues making movies today, the latest being Zero Theorem.
If you rented VHS horror and sci-fi in the late eighties and early nineties, then you’ll recognize the name of Charles Band. [more inside]
As much as Metafilter loves Jim Henson's Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, neither of those films would be half as powerful without the work of Brian and Wendy Froud. [more inside]
At a time when the Lord of the Rings didn't exist as a film or a book trilogy, Fritz Lang created the 5-hour-long film Die Nibelungen (The Nibelungs, 1924), based on the 13th-century poem Die Nibelungenlied (The Song of the Nibelungs). A short clip of Siegfried slaying the dragon was used as a trailer for the restored edition of the film. [more inside]
It's The Princess Bride's 25th anniversary! Little known facts about it. Fred Savage remembers. Why it's Jonathan Haynes's favorite film. Reunion. And don't worry, there's no remake in the works.
The trailer for Dungeons and Dragons 3: The Book of Vile Darkness has been released onto the Internet. [more inside]
Reversal of the Heart - a 13 minute animated film of the fantasy persusasion, the senior thesis of artist Carolyn Chrisman.
"For a genre known for depicting obscure creatures, new concepts of civilization, and future predictions for humanity, sci-fi sure has a hard time being about more than white people." Multi-disciplinary artist Adriel Luis' list of "10 fantasmic films, books, and records to transport you to the unreal—while still letting you keep it real."
"Let's do those drive-in totals. We have: Nineteen dead bodies (plus fragments). Ten breasts (shame on you, TNT censors). Two zombie breasts. One-hundred twenty-five zombies. Mummy dogs. One-half zombie dog. Ten gallons blood. Brain-eating. Gratuitous embalming. Zombie fu. Nekkid punk-rocker fondue. Gratuitous midget zombie. Torso S&M. One motor vehicle chase (totalled by zombies). Pool cue fu. No aardvarking. Heads roll. Brains roll. Arms roll. Hands roll. Joe Bob says, Check It Out." Only on MonsterVision. [more inside]
Show The Monster : "Guillermo del Toro’s quest to get amazing creatures onscreen." Video: Monsters in the Making. (Via)
"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."
Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown - A 90 minute documentary on HP Lovecraft with contributions by Neil Gaiman, John Carpenter and Guillermo Del Toro.
Richard Matheson—Storyteller - To mark the publication of a book of tribute stories writer and editor Richard Bradley has been blogging about the author's 60 year writing career- covering I Am Legend, Duel, and The Incredible Shrinking Man, not to mention Somewhere in Time (full index here). Of course Matheson is probably most famous for his contributions to the Twilight Zone, being one of it's three major writers and scripting Nightmare at 20,000 feet. Twice.
He invented or popularized a startling array of the fundamental elements of film: the dissolve, the fade-in and fade-out, slow motion, fast motion, stop motion, double exposures and multiple exposures, miniatures, the in-camera matte, time-lapse photography, color film (albeit hand-painted), artificial film lighting, production sketches and storyboards, and the whole idea of narrative film.
By 1897, in a studio of his own design and construction – the first complete movie studio – his hand forged virtually everything on his screen. Norman McLaren writes, "He was not only his own producer, ideas man, script writer, but he was his own set-builder, scene painter, choreographer, deviser of mechanical contrivances, special effects man, costume designer, model maker, actor, multiple actor, editor and distributor." Also, his own cinematographer, and the inventor of cameras to suit his special conceptions. Not even auteur directors such as Charles Chaplin, Orson Welles, John Cassavetes, and Stanley Kubrick would personally author so many aspects of their films."Inside: 57 films by Georges Méliès, the Grandfather of Visual Effects. [more inside]
Concept Art World - For example: Michael Kutsche, Marek Okoń, 25 Inspiring Examples of Spaceships and Aircraft, Star Trek XI Concept Art by Ryan Church plus lots more.
Kerwin Mathews, 1926-2007. The genre actor may be best remembered as the title character in one of my favorite movies, the classic The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
Paramount does Neil: Gaiman's book (illustrated by Charles Vess) is being made into a film called Stardust. You can watch the trailer or read the first chapter online. The film is directed by Matthew Vaughn, who doesn't exactly have a strong fantasy background. Cross your fingers, Gaimanites.
Did The Wizard of Oz inspire Lord of the Rings? "The first film version of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz was released in the summer of 1939, less than a month before World War II officially began. Though started as early as 1937, The Lord of the Rings was largely composed during the war years, but not published until somewhat later. Therefore, it is by no means impossible that J.R.R. Tolkien saw the magnificent MGM movie before he wrote most of his magnum opus. Could Oz have influenced his tale somehow, consciously or unconsciously?"