Monday, January 30, 2012

Aliens Invade Moscow in "The Darkest Hour" (Manila next?)

In the Dr. Who series, in the event of an alien invasion, the creatures from distant worlds prefer to start by infiltrating or destroying London. Big Ben was demolished in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks and in HG Wells’ novel the aliens also battled the humans in England.

In films over the last 60 years—King Kong, Soylent Green, Superman 2, Ghostbusters, Armageddon, Godzilla, Independence Day, Cloverfield, I Am Legend including the aforementioned Mars Attacks and the film version of War of the Worlds—the city of New York remained a perpetual favorite target. In Dragon Wars and Battle Los Angeles, the city of choice was Los Angeles—yet another favorite city to demolish.

In the upcoming film, “The Darkest Hour,” director Chris Gorak promises us “something different” from the usual alien invasion films. For one, the action is set in an “exotic” location—that location being Moscow. In a special presentation that coincided with the weekend of San Diego Comic Con 2011, Director Gorak took members of the press on a tour of storyboard images from the film as interpreted by comic book artists—including Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night) and Pia Guerra (Y: The Last Man).

The director and crew were all very excited to set a story and shoot in the backyard of producer Timur Bekmambetov (Nightwatch, Wanted). The main characters are set up in place where the language, geography, cityscape and culture are unfamiliar and well, “alien” to them. “Come see Moscow. Worthy of destroying," producer Tom Jacobson has said in many an interview.

Second, these won’t be the usual aliens that may resemble insects, amphibians, cephalopods, or the typical large headed creature with the small nose and gigantic black eyes. These aliens are invisible.

Gorak says—“Normally with most kinds of invasions, you feel safest during day, you can see the dangers around you. In this scenario, the it’s safest a night.” That’s because the aliens react to electricity. The humans get to see them at night because of the (yellow-orange) light they emit.

The male leads are Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer, Into the Wild), Max Minghella (Social Network and incidentally also the son of late director Anthony Minghella) and Joel Kinnaman (Swedish American actor who appeared in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; and soon to play Lancelot to Kit Harington’s Arthur). All three were on hand at the presentation with Gorak, Jacobson and another producer, Monnie Wills.

The story begins with two American software entrepreneurs (Hirsch and Minghella) arriving in Moscow to do business, only to find out their deal has been sabotaged. They go to a club to temporarily bury the thought of the treachery. However something bigger and more treacherous is happening outside—lights appear in the night sky, and there goes the neighborhood. The aliens arrive.

The main cast is rounded out by Russian actors who have worked with Bekmambetov before: Dato Bakhtadze who was “The Butcher” in “Wanted” and Yuriy Kutsenko who played Ignat the incubus in “Nightwatch.” They are joined American actresses Olivia Thirlby (Juno) Rachael Taylor (Transformers).

How do these chaps in a strange land survive? How does the Russian homeland resist these invisible invaders? We’ll just have to find out in The Darkest Hour.

At the close of the presentation, while Gorak went on about the thrills of shooting in different and exotic locations for an alien invasion, some journalists inquired after a possible sequel. To which I uttered, “Invade Manila!”

Hmmm. Alien invasions. More fun in the Philippines. Now there’s an idea that deserves another go.

P.S. Here are my photos of Joel Kinnaman and Emile Hirsch.

A Chat with Fangtasia's Door Bitch

Believe it or not, Kristin Bauer has been in the business for over two decades. But it’s her role as Pamela Swynford de Beaufort on True Blood that has earned her the most recognition. Ms. Swynford de Beaufort, best known as Pam, is the offspring, aide de camp and girl Friday of Eric Northman played by Alexander Skarsgard.

Pam may rock the pencil skirt and sweater set or tight sexy gothic dress but the last thing you can expect her to be is nice (don’t even expect her to fake it), gracious and polite. Especially when she’s working the Fangtasia gate.

True Blood is currently on it’s fourth season and while it reveals more of Pam’s character, her feral nature, fighting spirit and loyalty to Eric Northman—not much is revealed yet of Pam’s back story. Kristin does have her own theory on Pam’s earlier life: I got a bit of an impression from (the DVD special features) and a little bit of the books that Pam and Eric were lovers but then that was a long time ago. Alex and I joke that the first 50 years may have been passionate but things have cooled off.” Of course, Kristin is the envy of women around the world for the simple reason she gets to be beside him for a living—on that count she says, “I think he’s totally deserving of that adoration.”

To channel Pam and bring out her bitchiest, bluntest most abrasively straightforward self, Kirstin doesn’t look to another person or character for inspiration but says, “We have a bit of Pam in all of us. We all think the thoughts that she says but we don’t say them because we want to keep our job or we want to stay married or we still want that friend to call us for lunch.” For her, Pam is a really “truthful” character. I feel that what she’s saying is actually accurate. In Season 2, she gives that speech to Lafayette where she says ‘I don’t know why people want to tell me their problems, maybe I smile too much maybe I wear too much pink, but please remember I can rip your throat out if I need to.’ So it’s just an accurate statement she’s really just telling the truth.”

I did get to see Kristin from a distance at this year’s San Diego Comic Con—the True Blood cast has been a regular fixture at Ballroom 20 for the past few years. Kristin loves getting feedback from the fans and audience about her character and apparently they really love the way she delivered the line from Season 3 “Bla bla vampire emergency bla.”

On a personal level, Kristin got married in 2009 to South African musician Abri Van Straten, she maintains a website, she is an animal rights advocate and she is also an artist and painter. She has been known to combine her passions: Last year I did a sketch of Alexander that we auctioned off for a charity and then I was selling prints to fund a local animal rescue for dogs and cats. There is some True Blood art work that I want to do and I want to do one of Stephen next…I’ve gotten on this kick of painting flowers. I do very realistic oils and it’s so much fun it’s the most zen meditative time for me. Time just stops, it just doesn’t exist, I’ll look up at the clock and hours have gone by and it feels like it was 30 minutes so that’s a really great, rejuvenating thing.”

I think beyond just having Mr. Skarsgard to work beside, it seems Kirstin’s life is full of fulfilling pursuits and passions. I’m not writing down her age because I think just like a vampire, she’s ageless.