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Uncertainty Trailer

Posted by: Matthew Turner 26/11/2009 @ 15:06
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 421
Films seen this week: Nativity!, Mr Right, Battle for Terra 3D

A Few Words About Paranormal Activity
There were several things that I wanted to say about Paranormal Activity that I couldn't fit into the review this week. First I wanted to repeat all the impress-your-friends trivia facts surrounding the film, such as the fact that there are at least two alternate endings, both of which are discussed, at length here and here. The other story, which may or not be true, is that it was Steven Spielberg who suggested the ending we see in the theatrical version. Sadly, if you go looking for the alternate versions on YouTube, all you get are a series of lame parodies, because the studios have withdrawn all the genuine endings in order to boost DVD sales – it's out in December in the States, complete with all the alternate endings. Anyway, for what it's worth, I vastly prefer the Spielberg version that's on the UK release. There are a other differences too (the website sequence was originally much longer, for example), but it seems to me that all the changes have been for the better.

The other thing I wanted to mention was the hype effect – if you're bombarded with people telling you that Paranormal Activity is “the scariest film ever made” (it isn't, but it's still very scary), you are obviously going to be disappointed. A similar thing happened with The Blair Witch Project (which I loved) – everyone that saw it pre-hype raved about how scary it was, so that people who saw it afterwards, expecting THE SCARIEST FILM EVER MADE felt let down. So take the hype with a pinch of salt and you won't be disappointed. To that end, the UK marketing campaign is very effective, employing the tried-and-tested technique of showing us a real live audience being scared out of their minds in the trailer, even if they've shied away from pretending it's actually true, as they did early on in the States. That said, the trailer, criminally, gives away one of the biggest shocks of the final act, to the point where if you've seen the trailer, you spend the whole film waiting for that moment, then it happens and then the film ends. So, basically, if you're going to see the film, a) try and see it without watching the trailer and b) try and see it with as large an audience as possible, because there's really no substitute for an entire cinema full of people all jumping out of their seats at once.

Films I'm Looking Forward To: Uncertainty
This is another example of a film I didn't know existed until I went trawling for trailers for this blog. Directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel (the stylish, somewhat esoteric directing duo behind Suture, The Deep End and Bee Season), Uncertainty is essentially a US indie version of Sliding Doors. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lynn Collins star as a couple whose lives split off in two very different directions after tossing a coin on Brooklyn Bridge. In one version of reality, they find themselves on the run from mysterious gunmen after picking up a lost mobile phone, while in the other, the plot becomes a relationship drama, as they meet up with Collins' family and she agonises over whether or not to tell Gordon-Levitt that she's pregnant. I love films about fate and destiny and alternate realities, so I'm holding out high hopes for this, even if I haven't exactly loved McGehee and Siegel's films in the past (actually, I liked The Deep End, but hated Bee Season). I've also been a huge fan of Lynn Collins, ever since I saw her in the underrated Numb - she seems to be one of those actresses who's perpetually on the verge of making it big, but just needing the right role (she was also in True Blood and the Wolverine movie, in case you're wondering where you've seen her before. Well, that and the fact that she looks a lot like Lost's Evangeline Lily. There's no sign of a UK release date for this yet, but fingers crossed that it'll get one eventually.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Three very different new entries this week, with horror phenomenon Paranormal Activity, quirky British comedy Bunny and the Bull and French painter biopic Seraphine all making it into the top ten. I'd also like to put a good word in for both French immigrant drama Welcome and Ondi Timoner's We Live In Public, both of which are well worth catching before they disappear. Elsewhere, you can read our exclusive interviews with Romola Garai and director Stephen Poliakoff (for the highly enjoyable British thriller Glorious 39) as well as interviews with The Mighty Boosh director Paul King and actors Simon Farnaby and Ed Hogg for Bunny and the Bull. Also, next week sees the release of Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience, so check back here for an exclusive interview with porn star Sasha Grey.

1. The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
2. A Serious Man
3. Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno
4. Paranormal Activity
5. The Informant!
6. Up
7. Cold Souls
8. Bunny and the Bull
9. Glorious 39
10. Seraphine

DVD of the Week: Synecdoche, New York (out now, RRP £17.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is Synecdoche, New York, a surreal fantasy drama directed by Charlie Kaufman. Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as a separated, hypochondriac theatre director who stages a massive play that involves building a replica of New York in a warehouse and casting actors to play all the people in his life. Hoffman is terrific and there's superb support from Catherine Keener (as his less than sympathetic wife), Samantha Morton (as his girlfriend) and Emily Watson as one of the actresses playing his girlfriend. This is a rewarding, bracingly original drama that is challenging, maddening, laugh-out-loud funny and deeply moving, all at the same time. I gave it four stars when I saw it at the LFF in 2008 but the more I thought about it, the more I wished I'd given it the five it deserves. For what it's worth, I think it's one of the best films of the year and it would be in my Top 20 of the Noughties, for sure.

There were no extras on the review copy I received, but I'm reliably informed that there's a second disc with: a 36 minute round table discussion about the film with a group of film critics and bloggers; a 12 minute interview with Philip Seymour Hoffman; the 28 minute Script Factory interview with Kaufman from the 2008 LFF; the animated sequences that appear on Hoffman's TV in the film; and a 19 minute Making Of featurette. All in all, a decent extras package, despite the lack of a commentary or deleted scenes. (Although, to be fair, Kaufman did say, in our interview that he was very much against deleted scenes and wouldn't include them on the DVD). Highly recommended.


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