Friday, June 27, 2008

So I saw "WALL-E" and "Wanted" today......

I'm writing this on my cousin's computer so I won't be able to upload pictures or save any files that I would need in order to have said pictures etc etc, so I'll wait until I get back from New England to post the full reviews. However, just a few of my thoughts...

-WALL-E is vastly superior. If forced to choose between it and Wanted for this weekend, skip the overblown action flick and buy a ticket to the delightful robot love story/sci-fi adventure.

-The animation in WALL-E is among the best (if not THE best) ever put on screen for a computer generated cartoon. The visuals are stunning, and at times border on being completely realistic.

-WALL-E is very different than most Pixar films. While Toy Story, Monsters Inc, and Finding Nemo were all gutbustingly funny, WALL-E's humor is a bit more....low key. Imagine the innocence and charm of a Charlie Chaplin silent film filled with harmless physical humor, and you've basically got the picture.

-Apparently Angelina Jolie can do NO WRONG AT ALL. Her past three cinematic mediocrities have all managed to earn mostly positive reviews (Wanted, Beowulf, A Mighty Oscar Beggar); I'm really sick of it.

- Some reviews have declared Wanted to be the next "The Matrix"; it's not.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Action packed "Wall E" trailer

looks like Pixar has (kind of) abandoned the cutesy look for its marketing and starting focusing on the big action/adventure sequences. All in all, they look pretty dazzling..

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Get Smart" - REVIEW

After reflecting on the recent slew of TV to film adaptations, I had my doubts about "Get Smart"; Bewitched was pretty awful and I couldn't make it through 10 minutes of "The Dukes of Hazzard". Because of this, I was pleasantly surprised to find that "Get Smart", while not great, is at least an enjoyable way to spend a few hours in the movie theater. While it lacks truly gutbusting moments of comedy, something about the whole feel of the movie managed to keep a small grin on my face. Even when the jokes fall flat, I was still enjoying everything. When terrorist group KAOS learns the location of US spynetwork CONTROL's field agents, the entire group is compromised save for two: Maxwell Smart (Steve Carrell) and Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway). Part of what makes the proceedings so much fun is the great casting of Carrell and Hathaway, and their opposites-attract chemistry. Nice supporting turns are found in Alan Arkin as the CONTROL chief, Dwayne Johnson as Agent 23, and Masi Oka as a computer geek/inventor at CONTROL. Though it's mostly predictable, there's still fun to be had in this breezy summer action comedy. Though it's never quite "Smart" enough to be considered memorable, it's certainly far from dumb.

Grade: B-

Nominations: Best Actress - Anne Hathaway(#5)

Number of 2008 Films Seen: 14

Let's hope this isn't what Kate Winslet REALLY looks like in 40 years

A newly released picture of Kate on the set of her new film, the Holocaust drama "The Reader" also starring Ralph Fiennes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New "Australia" podcast released: Location Shooting

I know this film has plenty of doubters, but as I read/watch more and more interviews with the cast and crew it just seems like this is going to be absolutely incredible.

"The Happening" - REVIEW

You know there's something wrong with a movie that's meant to be taken seriously when a character apologizes to a plastic plant. In M. Night Shyamalan's latest thriller, people in the Northeast start freezing up and killing themselves. Is it an airborne virus? A terrorist attack? A government experiment gone wrong? The premise is certainly chilling (as was the film's trailer), yet even with such a good idea, M. Night manages to make sure that The Happening isn't happening at all. After some quick scenes of suicide, we're introduced to high school science teacher Elliot Moore (an embarrassingly awful Mark Wahlberg), who for some reason feels the need to talk to his students as though they're in the third grade. As "the event" starts happening, Moore, his estranged wife Alma (even more embarrassingly awful Zooey Deschanel), friend Julian (John Leguizamo) and his daughter begin evacuating. Obviously, said evacuation doesn't go too well. The train they eventually board drops off all its passengers claiming to have lost contact "with everyone". Among the first "allies" of Elliot and company is a couple who have their own plant nursery. In perhaps the most ridiculous scene of the movie, the husband leads the group into the nursery FULL OF PLANTS, blabs about how hotdogs are underrated, and THEN tells everyone, "I think PLANTS might be behind this!"; no, I am not making this up. Perhaps the main problem with The Happening is incidences like the one I just mentioned; they make it painfully clear that M. Night doesn't know what type of movie he's trying to make: serious thriller or tongue in cheek self parody (any film that juxtaposes scenes of two teens getting shot and a character actually apologizing to a plastic plant has serious tone issues). While some of the suicides are genuinely creepy (man walks into a lion cage at a zoo and gets torn to shreds), others just don't feel right. The script is so off, the performances flat out bad, and the inconsistencies so plentiful (the toxin seems to "attack" people in large groups, yet an elderly wackjob all by herself gets affected while other characters remain unharmed....). It's all such a shame because the final scene is actually a nice, spooky touch; it represents what the entire film should have been: a genuinely spooky apocalyptic thriller.

Grade: D+

Nominations: none

Number of 2008 Films Seen: 13

Great interview with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman on "Australia"

with pictures by world class photographer Annie Leibovitz:

"Would you like to touch it?" asks Nicole Kidman.

I lower my hand onto the rounded curve of her stomach. It's as firm to the touch as a melon. "I just felt some kicking," she says, giving me the look of unbridled delight you might expect from a 40-year-old woman who's soon to bear her first child.

"The whole experience is so primal," she says.

Our surroundings, most assuredly, are not. We're at the top-floor bar of the Ritz-Carlton in Manhattan's Battery Park and enjoying the healthiest of refreshments, bottled water and a lavish fruit plate from which Kidman—a devotee of red meat—takes everything but the strawberries (she's allergic). It's a clear spring day, and down below us is the harbor that Kidman's husband, country-music star Keith Urban, says looks a bit like her native Sydney.

Casually dressed in a tight black pullover and jeans—punctuated by the trademark red soles of her black Louboutin heels—Kidman remains strikingly thin for a woman seven months pregnant. So thin, in fact, that I've heard people say they don't believe she's actually with child. When I mention this, she gives the laugh of one who's learned not to be fazed by all the silly things people think.

"Just look at how I'm sitting here with my legs apart"—her knees splay out at a 45-degree angle. "This is the way you have to sit when you're pregnant."

Kidman has always been one of those artists whose creative life takes precedence over more mundane concerns. Whenever we've chatted in the past, her head has always been buzzing with movies: She'd start right in talking about a great performance by Cate Blanchett, the brilliance of Stanley Kubrick, or her burning desire to work with some new director from Hong Kong or Denmark. These days, however, her conversation takes a radical new turn. She starts out talking about—country life.

"I've been in Tennessee, just sitting," she says. "We have a farm there, and I have an organic vegetable garden. This is a path I'd not taken before. My mum's always gardened. My sister gardens. And I've now conformed to the Kidman women's hobby of gardening. And it is just a hobby. I'm not feeding the troops." She laughs. "There's a softness to the Tennessee landscape that I just love. It's very beautiful out there. We have deer and wild turkeys."

Although it takes me a while to adjust to her folksy new interests—I never dreamed we'd be talking about buying a pickup truck—she remains the same Nicole Kidman, one of the most fascinating and complicated actresses currently working in Hollywood. Nobody is cannier about journalists—she remembers the names of reporters who wrote about her two decades ago—and her eyes flash with recognition when she says something she feels sure will wind up in your article.

"Nicole is a thoroughbred," says her dear friend Baz Luhrmann, who directed her in his upcoming film Australia. "She is highly strung, highly volatile, highly everything."

Her mercurial moods lie close to the surface. She's eager to laugh, unafraid to cry, easy to take offense—she's attuned to the hidden fishhook in every remark. When I casually mention that she's starred in lots of movies in recent years, her mouth tightens: Am I implying that she's too ambitious? Well, no. Once she grasps that I'm actually praising her Old Hollywood work ethic, she instantly brightens and, with her most radiant smile—she carefully offers gradations—welcomes me back into her good graces. This is not a woman who shies away from intensity.

These days she's most at ease talking about her children. Kidman already is a mother, of course, and she takes care to sing the praises of her adopted daughter, Isabella, fifteen, and son, Connor, thirteen. But carrying a child is clearly something new and overwhelming.

"When I first saw the baby on the ultrasound, I started crying. I didn't think I'd get to experience that in my lifetime," she says. "I like the unpredictable nature of it. To feel life growing with you is something very, very special, and I'm going to embrace that completely. I don't believe in flittering around the edges of things. You're either going to walk through life and experience it fully or you're going to be a voyeur. And I'm not a voyeur."

The last time we met, the topic of babies never came up. I'd flown down to the set of Australia, a big, old-fashioned epic, about the soul of the land Down Under in the days leading up to World War II, that's a bit like an Aussie Gone With the Wind. Kidman stars as Lady Sarah Ashley, a refined Englishwoman who comes all the way to the outback to look for her missing husband at their homestead in the Northern Territory. She winds up getting involved with a tough local cattle drover, played by Hugh Jackman, whose closeness to the Aboriginal people has made him something of an outcast.

The homestead set had been plunked down in the middle of nowhere, a jolting hour-long drive from the small, dusty town of Kununurra, and conditions were rough. Although the landscape has a beauty that verges on the otherworldly—at dusk, you can watch kangaroos bounding along by the hundreds—it's a dangerous beauty. If the deadly snakes and spiders don't get you, the blazing sun will.

The day I arrive, the temperature is perhaps 110 degrees, and even the leather-faced Australian crew is desperately seeking shade on the veranda of the ranch house that's the center of action. Nobody could feel hotter than Our Nicole (as the Aussie press calls her). Playing a character hopelessly unprepared for the scorching climate, she is dressed in a cashmere jacket and skirt. But when she sees me, she instantly walks 100 yards across the desiccated soil to give me a gentle hug:

"Oh, John," she whispers, "it's so lovely of you to have come all this way to see us. I'm not quite myself this morning. I was up all night with a bladder infection."

I am shocked. Not by the medical update, mind you—Kidman can be surprisingly free with unexpected intimacies—but by her breathy, British accent. Has she gone Madonna on me since we last met? It is only later, as I watch her and Jackman do a scene together, that I realize the truth. She isn't being grandiose. She is simply burrowing her way into the character of Lady Sarah, a character so airily aristocratic that Luhrmann has begun calling his star "Baroness."

For Kidman, Australia is a dream project. She gets to perform with Jackman, who thrilled her by being big enough to sweep her up into his arms ("That's movie-star stuff—and I'm not tiny!"). She gets to be at the center of a movie about her country shot in the grand manner of a David Lean—as Jackman says, "There'll never be an Australian movie like this again." Best of all, she gets to reunite with Luhrmann, with whom she's worked several times, most famously on Moulin Rouge!

"Baz is not afraid to abandon himself to romance," Kidman says. "He's this very, very big thinker who has this rare, almost childlike naïveté. We all feed off his passion."

One of Luhrmann's virtues is that he genuinely likes powerful women. His wife, Catherine Martin (invariably referred to as C.M.), is his collaborator in life and art. It's C.M. who won Oscars for the design and costumes in Moulin Rouge!, and it's she who is giving the Australia production the same level of imaginative intensity. One afternoon she gives me a tour of the homestead, and I'm astonished by her level of planning (if only she could have handled the occupation of Iraq). Everything has been conceived with lavish care, from the cut of Kidman's costumes to the look of the windmill (which, she tells me, had to be aged just so) to the various interior furnishings.

"Baz and I feel that viewers can sense the truth of these things even if they don't know they are seeing them. They can feel that the world we're creating is dense."

Kidman and Luhrmann share a different kind of affinity—she's at once his Muse and his Galatea—and her faith in him is absolute.

"Nicole came over to my house for a Super Bowl party in 2006," Jackman tells me, "and she knew I was talking to Baz about doing the movie. She said, 'You must do it, you must do it.' And I asked, 'Have you read the script?' And she said, 'No, it's Baz. I don't need the script.' " He laughs. "You know, there aren't a lot of A-list actresses who'll sign on sight unseen."

Then, too, there aren't a lot of A-list actresses who would so eagerly jump at the chance to experience the rigors of making a film like Australia.

"It's the roughest thing I ever had to go through," she says. "The heat is debilitating. I was sitting on a horse once and I remember thinking, Gosh, this is what it feels like before you faint—and then I fainted."

She goes on: "There was another time we flew in by helicopter to the Salt Flats—it was like a moonscape, there was just nothing there—and we got caught in a dust storm so bad we couldn't even see. Everybody lived out there for five days in these little silver tents. It was great. That's the adventure. That's why you make movies. It's the equivalent of The African Queen, where they were out in the wilderness and Katharine Hepburn was washing her hair with a bucket. We all want that experience."

At moments, that experience feels transcendent. One afternoon I sit with C.M. and Jackman as Luhrmann is preparing to shoot one of the movie's crescendos, in which a hundred horses come charging down to the ranch house. The production is waiting around for "magic hour," which is never more magical than in the outback when the whole world glows with a sumptuous blood-orange light. In the meantime, Luhrmann revs everyone up with his megaphoned encouragements, which sound less like actual instructions than a guy scat-singing phrases to get everyone's emotional level high. Finally, it's a go. The Australian sunlight shines through the dust, the horses come pounding past the ranch house in a thundering roar, and Lady Sarah rushes along the veranda and watches it with rising excitement. When Luhrmann finally yells, "Cut!" everyone is jazzed. "It was worth making this film just to be part of that!" exults Jackman.

Throughout the production, Kidman and Urban had made a point of seeing each other every few days. (He even played a three-hour set at a party she and Jackman held for the crew in Bowen, a coastal town 1,700 miles from Kununurra that also served as a location for the film.) It was when the production shifted to Sydney that she discovered, to her joy, that she was pregnant. Although she instantly withdrew from her next film, The Reader ("I really wanted to do it, but I had no choice"), the news didn't stop her from putting in fourteen- and fifteen-hour days on Australia.

"Nicole had horrendous morning sickness," Jackman tells me, "but she's a trouper. She put everything on the line every day."

It's precisely this quality that Luhrmann finds irresistible.

"Most people are marvelously centered when it's calm but uncentered when it's stormy. With Nicole, it's the opposite," he says. "When the storm is raging on the set, or in life, her spirit settles down and finds its complete center. Nicole always does a high-wire act without a net," says Luhrmann, "and even if she sometimes falls, this is what makes her compelling—as an artist and as a person."

When I first interviewed Kidman, back in the mid-nineties, her high-wire act seemed focused on her career: She had something to prove as an artist. These days, it's her personal life that's in the process of creation. She's starting to play perhaps the most demanding roles of all: a happy wife and mother.
For the rest of the article, click HERE

"The Incredible Hulk" - REVIEW

At the beginning of the decade, rumors began to swirl about that the Hulk, one of Marvel's most popular superheroes, would be getting a big screen treatment. To make matters better, Ang Lee, fresh off his success with the Oscar winning action/adventure film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", was signed on to direct. It seemed like a brilliant decision: take a director who can make films involving action AND dark, brooding characters, and give him the normally bombastic Hulk comic to work his magic with. However, when "Hulk" opened in summer 2003, the disappointment was almost palpable. Lee tried to give audiences something of an art-house comic book flick, filled with (GASP) more character development and very little action. This was admirable, but not executed terribly well, given the central character (whereas it worked brilliantly for Chris Nolan's "Batman Begins" in 2005). Then, about a year or so ago, new rumors about a new Hulk film begin to make their way about the internet. Edward Norton, a closet comic book geek, would both star and co-write a screenplay. Then along the way, rumors arose that Norton and the studio execs were divided over the screenplay and the length of the movie (the directors cut will include an extra 70 and Norton's screenplay credit was dropped. However, despite the bumps along the way, the Hulk finally has an acceptable, though not great, film to be remembered by (any inevitable sequels have a lot of room to improve however). The opening credits show us how Bruce Banner (Norton) became the Hulk, earning him the ire of General Ross (William Hurt). Five years later, Ross gets wind of Norton's whereabouts (Brazil), and sends an elite squad led by Lt. Blonsky (Tim Roth). This sets off the action as Banner tries to escape from the army, and also find a cure for his strange condition. Along the way he hooks up with his old flame, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). While replacing Eric Bana with Norton was a smart idea (the contrast between Norton's thin frame and the Hulks massive muscles adds to the dichotomy of the character), replacing Jennifer Connelly with Tyler isn't the greatest choice. She's not terrible, but there's a certain spark that's missing. At times, EVERYONE seems to be missing a little something; even Norton turns in a somewhat tepid performance. However in the end, a Hulk movie should be about the big set pieces, and here the film does deliver. They're (very) loud, but they're also genuinely excited, and you actually feel more invested in the characters during the fight scenes than in the sometimes brain dead conversations. For this Hulk, the only thing truly incredible are the special effects.

Grade: B-/C+

Nominations: Best Original Score - Craig Armstrong(#4), Best Visual Effects(#4), Best Sound Editing(#4), Best Sound Mixing(#4)

Number of 2008 Movies Seen: 12

Trouble ahead: Variety slams "The Edge of Love"

A four-way emotional collision involving the poet Dylan Thomas, his wife Caitlin and another couple is scrutinized in Brit helmer John Maybury's "The Edge of Love." While the period drama has several redeeming features, tonally it's all over the map, veering between artsy stylization and hum-drum, sometimes almost twee melodrama. Although vigorous marketing and the presence of stars Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller will pull in considerable punters, especially in Blighty, "Edge" is neither edgy enough to satisfy the arthouse crowd nor, given its downbeat arc, sufficiently lovey-dovey for the mainstream.

Story begins in 1940, in the first bloom of the Blitz. Working in London for the war effort, Dylan Thomas (Welsh thesp Matthew Rhys, best known for TV's "Brothers and Sisters") runs into his ex-g.f. Vera Philips (Knightley), who grew up with Thomas in Wales. She's now earning a living singing to the huddled masses in underground shelters during bomb raids. (Given Knightley's singing voice, which is as thin as her figure, and her strained Welsh accent, she'd be well advised not to give up the day job playing posh English totties.)

Vera has never really gotten over Dylan. All the same, she becomes firm friends with his passionate, impetuous wife Caitlin (Miller), an Irish lass who, like Thomas, enjoys a drink or six. Before long, the three are sharing an attic room together, with nothing but an impractical, if highly photogenic, diaphanous curtain between their beds for privacy.

English Capt. William Killick (Cillian Murphy) takes a fancy to Vera; she gives him the cold shoulder at first, but their survival together of a bomb attack precipitates their affair and eventual marriage. However, Vera and William's romantic idyll is cut short when he's called up to fight in Greece.

Action then jumps ahead a year or so to the Welsh seaside. Vera is living with Rowatt, her infant son by William, in one cottage while Dylan and Caitlin live a stone's throw away with their slightly older boy, Llewellyn. No one is very happy: Vera pines for William, Dylan drinks and cheats on Caitlin, Caitlin drinks and cheats on Dylan, and the kids cry a lot. Overseas, judging by the desaturated color of the lensing, poor William seems to have wandered into a low-budget remake of "Saving Private Ryan."

When William finally returns shellshocked from the front, revelations tumble out, resentments come to a boil and violence breaks out, with a clumsy last-act shift into courtroom drama and a curiously flat resolution.

Like many other literary biopics, the screenplay by Sharman Macdonald (Knightley's mother, best known for her plays) struggles to cleave a clean narrative out of the mess of real lives and events. Consequently, minor characters drift in and out, their relationships to the leads never quite clarified, and there's a growing sense that the film was cut down from a longer edit.

While the dialogue keeps emphasizing the convention-defying bond between Vera and Caitlin, their rapport seems more asserted than felt. Their friendship seems meant to form the real heart of the story, but its arteries keep getting clogged with subplots and digressions, never coming into focus despite a few well-written scenes.

Miller holds her end up beautifully, adding surprising depths to a tricky, mercurial character. (The revisionist script tries a bit too hard, though, to paint Caitlin as a long-suffering victim.) Unfortunately, Knightley, who has yet to prove her mettle as a leading thesp outside a film helmed by Joe Wright, convinces neither as a gauche girl from the valleys nor as a liberated sophisticate of the period. Still, she looks terrific, as does Miller, in wide-shouldered 1940s frocks and scarlet slashes of lipstick.

Rhys' work is sturdy, getting Thomas' delivery down pat without descending into mere impersonation. The always reliable Murphy adds heft as the troubled William, but still looks miscast in a part that calls for dash as well as dourness.

Ultimately, none of the characters are terribly sympathetic, which may prove a problem for the women's-mag market the pic is targeting domestically. Indeed, given its portrait of an artist as a selfish young jerk, "The Edge of Love" reps a companion piece of sorts to Maybury's "Love Is the Devil," which examined the unhappy relationship between painter Francis Bacon and his working-class lover George Dyer. Both pics admirably refuse to canonize their most famous characters. Considering how unflattering the depiction of Thomas is here, it's to his heirs' credit that they've permitted the use of his poetry in the film.

Pic's first half is slow going, with one too many musical interludes (admittedly luminously shot by Jonathan Freeman to accentuate the hot reds of the Technicolor palette). A few standout sequences get across the weird, heightened atmosphere of the Blitz, using archival footage and visual effects to add background. The story picks up with the shift to Wales but grows drabber visually, perhaps justifiably so, given the more domestic milieu.

Non-source music by Angelo Badalamenti contributes a spooky, contempo texture that abrades the rigorous period detail in an interesting way. Other tech credits are pro.

A beautiful but underwhelming period piece starring Keira Knightley? It really IS this year's "Atonement"!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Benjamin Button trailer ACTUALLY IN ENGLISH

This time I swear it's in "spanish disguised as english", no "spanish dubbed over with english"...this is the real deal if you haven't seen it already..

A much better "meet the cast" feature for "WALL-E"

this is the one I was trying to find...

New trailer for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

I can't wait!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Be Kind Rewind" - REVIEW

Usually, I can tell if I'm going to like a movie or not after the first 30 minutes or so. However, when it comes to "Be Kind Rewind", the latest from "Eternal Sunshine" director Michel Gondry, there's more than meets the eye. The story is set in Passaic, New Jersey, where Mike (rapper Mos Def) and Jerry (Jack Black) work for a very outdated VHS-only rental store run by Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover). After an accident at a powerplant (which comes across as an unfortunately contrived way to get the story going) Jerry is magnetized and manages to erase all of the tapes in the store. In a panic to satisfy an elderly customer Ms. Falewicz (Mia Farrow), the two make their own 20 minute version of "Ghost Busters" for her to rent. It soon falls into the hands of her nephew and his friends, who come by and tell the pair (along with new recruit Alma, played by the charming Melonie Diaz) that, "that wasn't so bad....what else y'all got?". Soon the trio (with some help from neighbors and friends) begin to "Swede" titles at the request of their increasing fan-base; they begin to cover everything from Seven, to the original King Kong, and even 2001: A Space Odyssey. While the story itself is an offbeat and charming idea, something goes wrong in the first half or so in Gondry's execution. The first 45 minutes are completely lifeless and depressingly devoid of charm. While the two "Swede" Ghost Busters (their first attempt), there's not an ounce of charm. However, after a sluggish start, everything starts to pull together to build to a surprisingly sweet and charming conclusion that should leave all but the most cold-hearted with a grin.

Grade: B

Nominations: Best Original Screenplay(#4)

Number of 2008 Films Seen: 11

Poster for the Coen brothers' "Burn After Reading"

Very cool. It has a somewhat Hitchcock-esque look to it.

Get acquainted with the robotic cast of "Wall-E"

*sigh* if only these things were actually real....

The I/O Brush...

I'm not sure what use I'd ever find for something like this, but it's still pretty damn cool (and completely irrelevant to the content of this blog!)

A behind the scenes look at "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince"!

Teaser poster for 2009's "Angels and Demons"

I would have been skeptical, but then I remembered that the marketing for "The Da Vinci Code" began a year before the release of the film, with only a picture of the Mona Lisa and the title. We probably would have seen this sooner, but the film was one of the first casualties of the WGA strike last fall. With the script now complete, Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, and everyone else are getting the cameras rolling....almost. The Vatican doesn't want the movie filmed inside two key churches in Rome. Though they SAY it's because the story doesn't fit with their beliefs yada yada yada, I have another theory: they can't stand to have a house of God defiled by the presence of Tom Hanks sporting a really oily mullet; the sight of such a hideous haircut is sure to caust many even the most devout to question their faith in God (mine was shaken as I sat through the cinematic travesty that was "The Da Vinci Code"). Let's hope this prequel to "Code" does a better job adapting the source material.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The "Indiana Jones" that almost was: The City of the Gods

MTV has leaked a review of what is either an alternate script for Indiana Jones 4 by Frank Darabont (director of the Shawshank Redemtion) or the most brilliant forgery ever written. If this is real, then all in all, I have to admit I'd have liked this script much more:

The 'Indy 4' That Never Was? We Compare 'Crystal Skull' To 'City Of The Gods' Script Leaked OnlineAn alternate version of the script, possibly written by Frank Darabont, was (briefly) posted on the Internet.

What would movie fans give to read every draft of "Indy 4" — especially Frank Darabont's? Well, the wait is over: That very version popped up online late Wednesday.

And, make no mistake about it, there are moments of real beauty in this thing. So what's the biggest difference between the two versions?

The overall arc of the film more or less follows that of "Crystal Skull," with the adventure beginning at a desert military base/ warehouse, continuing at Marshall College, and ending with Indy and company deep in the jungles of South America searching for skulls.

But the four biggest differences in this draft also double as the four best: No Mutt Williams; no Mac; a tougher, more "Raiders"-esque Marion; and a climax that not only gives Indy something to do (how in the world did David Koepp think to give Indy nothing?) but forces him to make a decision that rivals the end of "Crusade" (the cup or a father's love?), crystallizing the character and his history into one momentous singularity. Bravo!

So how good is Marion, really? Great. The first time we see her onscreen, she literally punches Indy in the face. She's also married, and not to Dr. Jones, but to a rival archaeologist turned communist spy. The banter between the two old lovers sparkles, a lot of it recalling dialogue from "Raiders." For example:

Marion: "What's the matter, Jones? Mileage finally catching up with you?"

Indy: "It ain't the mileage, sweetheart. It's the years!"

A "Raiders" reference! Are there any more? Lots and lots.

We don't see the Ark in this movie, though we can assume from the description that we're in the same warehouse. We also see Sallah (briefly), a play on Indy's fear of snakes, repeated references in the dialogue (Indy: "Marion Ravenwood. I always knew someday you'd come walking back through my door"), and even the golden fertility idol.

Are the groan-inducing moments from "Crystal Skull" in here too? Surviving a nuclear blast in a fridge? A rubber tree that supports a car? Man-eating ants? A character swinging through the trees like Tarzan? Yeah, they're all here, as well as some even sillier stuff, like an "Anaconda"-esque snake that devours Indy whole and a cameo for Henry Jones Sr. that has him singing — singing — Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon." Also, there's this dialogue:

Marion: "Oh yeah, what about that glamour gal you spent time with?"

Indy: "She moved out to Hollywood to be a star. Last I heard, she fell in love and married some big-shot director."

(In real life, Kate Capshaw, who played Willie Scott in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," is married to Steven Spielberg. Indefensible.)

Is the silly stuff still as silly? Not really. That's the thing. We can't believe we're going to defend a refrigerator ride on a nuclear wave, but we're going to. For one, the conversation after the event is much more pointed — Indy actually talks about nuclear weapons with his interrogators, telling them that he doesn't think anybody should have that much power. And that exchange, that line, means so much to this film, especially to the climax, that it's easy to say it works better. The film also ends not with a spaceship flying away into space, but a spaceship trying to fly away into space, only to crash-land and explode in a second nuclear inferno. So it's a silly setup that has a serious and poignant payoff. Nobody should have that much power. Not even the aliens.

Oh yeah, there are still aliens. Well, one alien. He talks this time, specifically calling himself a being worthy of worship. We see scenes of primitive man mistaking them for gods. (The red-staters would have a hemorrhage.)

So this climax we keep talking about. What is it?

Indy, Marion, Oxley (yeah, he's here), Marion's husband (the rival archaeologist) and a few others deliver the crystal skull to the temple, placing it on the head of a crystal skeleton. Soon, five members of the group are lifted into the air and offered anything their hearts desire. One wishes for ultimate power. One for ultimate wisdom. Another to be the deadliest creature alive. Indy? We'll let Marion ask:

Marion: "Back in the Lost City. When you were in the dream cloud, what did you see?"

Indy: "It was like ... seeing everything in the universe all at once. Like suddenly knowing all the secrets there are to know. The meaning of it all."

Marion: "So why didn't you take it? All that fortune and glory?"

Indy: "I did."

And then they kiss. Good line. After falling from the cloud, Indy shoots the skull, destroying the entire temple — again, denying any creature that much power. We call that a climax in this business. Scratch that: We call that an awesome climax.

And the action scenes? Some really good ones, including a rooftop fight between Indy and a Russian assassin, and a midair plane fight in which Indy battles his rival from the wings of a biplane.

Final verdict?

A million times better than "Crystal Skull." Not perfect. Not "Raiders." But it's got its moments of pure Indy magic. Darabont obviously loves the character, and more than anything else, his passion is evident in each and every scene. If made, it could have been a welcome addition to the Indy cannon and easily earned a place alongside the other sequels.

Poster for Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

Simple, but I kind of like it.....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Trailer for Spike Lee's "Miracle at St. Anna"

As much as Spike Lee can be a complete ass (his recent feud with Clint Eastwood, anyone?), I have to give credit where credit is due; this looks excellent.

Leona Lewis becomes the presumptive choice for the Bond 22 theme song!

I'm still hoping Amy Winehouse (who says she completed the song she wrote for the film) can pull an upset and snag the deal, but it's looking less and less likely.

Source: CLICK

Once again, I think I'll let Peter O'Toole do the talking for me....

Alternate trailer for "The Dark Knight"

Why do they have to keep teasing us!? Just give us the damn movie already!!!!!

A trip down Nostalgia Lane.......

Over the past few days (thanks to a marvelous website called I was able to do something I never thought I could. Back around 2000/2001, I fell in love with two animated shows (specifically, Japanese anime shows). Unfortunately, for one of them (named Outlaw Star), I never got to see the series conclusion, even though it only consisted of 26 episodes. To finally see that end of that show, and simply to revisit both shows to see if they still held up turned out to be the right decision:
Gundam Wing: The story begins 195 years after humans establish the first space colonies (small self sufficient cities housed within space station like structures). However, the corrupt Earth Sphere Alliance seeks to keep the colonies under control, primarily through the use of Mobile Suits, (basically, large robots that are piloted by humans). In retaliation, the colonies send five special mobile suits called Gundams to earth, in hopes of defeating the ESA, and bringing peace between Earth and outer space. What follows is a surprisingly philosophical 49 episode journey that spends as much time discussing what it means to be a soldier as it does blowing things up (in a spectacular fashion I might add). Though the animation is among the best in any anime, there are some moments when the age of the show manages to make itself known. A number of close-ups in battle scenes are in fact the exact same, only with the time of day, scenery, and weather digitally altered to match the story; there is also the case of some of the "explosions", many of which are just large orange balls of fire (luckily these two problems are gone in the follow-up movie "Endless Waltz"). Also adding to the excitement is that in addition to lasers and machine guns, some of the mobile suits have laser swords, meaning they can duel like gigantic, robotic Jedi. Though any show involving giant robots is going to have to cause one to suspend their sense of disbelief, the show doesn't let itself get away with everything; characters are often shown struggling and/or running out of ammunition, which puts them in a bind. However, Gundam Wing never loses sight of its story, which twists and turns constantly. One moment it's Faction A vs. Faction B, then 6 episodes later Faction A gets usurped by a subsection of itself and must join forces with Faction B and so on. I only have a few other complaints about the show, and while they are significant, they don't keep me from loving this series. The first is that the aforementioned philosophical discussions can suffer from being either repetitive, or from stiff dialogue. The second is one of the primary female characters, named Relena. While her goals are certainly good (an end to all war), she's too naive, stubborn, and preachy, so much so that it's tempting to reach through the TV screen and slap her. The final complaint is that the writers metaphorically bitch-slap the third Gundam pilot (named Trowa), when he gets caught in a rough battle that leaves him with amnesia. This by itself isn't bad, but the fact that the show waits SO long before he gets back into the action, makes fans of Trowa and his Gundam (like me) feel a bit cheated (although he did get plenty to do at the start of the show..but still). All in all, a stellar show with a compelling and constantly surprising story filled with action, philosophy, and moral ambiguity.

Grade: A-

Outlaw Star: While this second series may lack the depth of the previous show, it's probably more enjoyable (and it's actually has comic relief...whew). The story is set WAY in the future, where humans have discovered and co-populated dozens of other planets, some light years apart, thanks to futuristic transportation ships. On the low-key planet Sentinel 3, mechanic and occaisional bounty hunter Gene Starwind and his partner, 12 year old computer genius Jim Hawking, are swept up in a violent quest alongside a renegade pirate. She eventually leads them to a storage hanger and unveils a combat vessel of unparalleled technology, and soon, the three are off on a quest to find a mysterious place/person/"thing" known only as "The Galactic Leyline". Other forces join them on the way, including a cat-like humanoid warrior (the main source of comic relief) and a swift female assassin who wields a wooden sword with deadly precision. The final crew member is the mysterious Melphina, who is part human, part android, and is somehow related to the battle ship (named The Outlaw Star) and the mysterious Galactic Leyline. Combining both futuristic technology, unique designs (the battle ships are like nothing in any other anime; they come equipped with mechanical arms which can be used for combat), a little magic, and gorgeous animation make this an eccentric and kinetic thrill ride. An added bonus is that when the show was aired on Cartoon Network around 2001, I never got to see the final part of the 3-part conclusion, even though they ran through the whole series about 7 times. My only complaint is that near the end, when the episodes should become more focused on the journey to the Galactic Leyline, they seem to become too "individual", and not as coherent as need be for the spectacular three part conclusion (which feels like 2001: A Space Odyssey meets The Matrix). Perhaps just a few more episodes would have helped to flesh it out a little bit more (the whole series is only 26 episodes). However, the sense of fun, slick action, and great characters overcome the minor flaw, and create one of the most compact, yet one of the best anime shows in history.

Grade: A

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mulholland Dr.(2001)

All I can say is that I'd like to write a review, but my head is still spinning far too much from the second half of the movie. Though the first half doesn't seem too weird, the second is SO bizarre that it practically defies description. You'll just have to see it for yourself. I can't tell if David Lynch is a genius, a lunatic, or some twisted of the combination. For now I guess I'll give him the benefit of the doubt....

Grade: A

Nominations: Best Picture(#3), Best Director - David Lynch(#3), Best Actress - Naomi Watts(#2), Best Actress - Laura Elena Harring(#5), Best Original Screenplay(#2), Best Editing(#3), Best Cinematography(#4)

Final trailer for "Wanted"

I just now realized that this movie is going for the hard R rating.....I wonder if that will hurt it box-office wise. That and I still can't tell if this is going to be mindless fun or mindnumbingly bad........

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A hilarious set of predictions about the summer movie season

I'd like to take credit for writing this clever tongue-in-cheek article, but unfortunately it is from the brilliant mind of another:

By Mark Harris
Mark Harris is a writer and former executive editor of EWLooking ahead to summer movie season in April is a tricky business. Last year was supposed to be the summer of the towering threequels (Shrek, Pirates, and Spider-Man), and it was, sort of, except if you define the summer by movies people actually liked. This year, I'm staying away from guesswork about quality or box office performance, and instead offering predictions about something that's much easier to forecast: the hype, the spin, the second-guessing, the Monday-morning quarterbacking, and the gun-jumping. Here are my hunches about what the summer of 2008 has in store:

A furious controversy will arise over whether Heath Ledger deserves a posthumous Best Supporting Actor nomination for The Dark Knight. This will begin when an anonymous informant on pronounces Ledger's performance brilliant. Three days later a flurry of chat-room postings on will say that Ledger's work is being overpraised. A week after that, a major film blogger will pronounce him a shoo-in for the Academy Award. A couple of days later another blogger will write that he senses that the movie is basically over and the public has rejected it. Three weeks after that, the movie will open.

Not a single major summer movie will fail at the box office because it's bad. Instead, disappointing grosses for certain movies will be blamed on one or more of the following factors: Warm weather. Cold weather. Rainy weather. The recession. Bad marketing. The war. Film festival fever. Unfairly high expectations. Theaters that are filled with just too darn many good movies at once. An unexpected ''backlash.'' Tom Cruise (because that just never gets old). Intense national interest in TV's riveting gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Republican National Convention. Movie piracy. Actual pirates. Fear of avian flu. And Hillary. In cases in which a movie's performance is so exceptionally poor that it cannot be excused by anything on the above list, we will be sternly reminded that everyone knows the real money these days comes from DVDs. The movie will then fail on DVD. But quietly.

The three most coveted words at the top of a summer 2008 movie advertisement will be ''This year's Juno.'' By May 1, a race will begin to see who can be the first to use this phrase. It may be a publicist or it may be a critic for a publication that nobody is certain actually exists. Any movie that costs under $150 million to make and market will be eligible for this designation as long as everyone involved agrees to politely ignore the fact that this year's Juno is actually Juno. With the realization that ''This year's Little Miss Sunshine'' is no longer of any use because it's so one year ago, disappointment will set in, and other movies will settle for the runner-up trophy, ''This year's Enchanted,'' or, purely in cases of extreme need, ''The little movie that could.''

At some point this summer, a modestly budgeted movie that features a woman in a major role will make money. This will puzzle, confuse, and anger studio executives, who will spend several days wondering if there is some way to explain how it happened. They will distantly recall that it may have happened before, although they won't be able to remember the name of the movie or of the actress. After several days of tension, they will decide that it is probably nothing to worry about and just let it go.

There will be many, many dull discussions about how we are now living in the ''post-movie star era.'' As you may recall, a recent TIME magazine cover story pronounced George Clooney ''The Last Movie Star.'' But that was before Leatherheads, so now, apparently, the species is completely extinct. (''Movie star,'' if you're not familiar with technical Hollywood jargon, means ''an actor who is so popular that people will buy tickets to his movies even if they're unbelievably awful.'' Now you know why Hollywood makes so many unbelievably awful movies: It's the only way movie stars can be positively identified.) A great sorrow will hang over the industry, as executives throughout Los Angeles pray for someone to lead them out of the darkness while they stare with intense concentration at photographs of Will Smith. If the shortage persists, every TV actor between 17 and 45 will be hired to star in at least one movie, leading to 700 bad movies starring people who turn out not to be the next Katherine Heigl.

Somebody, at some point, is going to pitch a studio production chief a motion picture based on The Hills. If that production chief says no, we will all live happily in good health and eventually prosper. If that production chief says yes, the skies will rain blood for a thousand years. You make the call.

First pictures from the set of "Public Enemies"(2009)

Based on the true story of criminal John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), and the FBI agent who tries to take him down (Christian Bale). The film also stars Marion Cotillard as Dillinger's girlfriend.

The rest of the pictures can be viewed: HERE

The Other Boleyn Girl - REVIEW

Imagine if you and a bunch of your friends decided to engage in some sort of historical reenactment. You go out and buy a bunch of high end costumes, and you even fly out to the location where the events you're acting out happened, even though they look drastically different nowadays. It seems perfectly acceptable for you and your friends because you're just having fun. However, imagine what happens when a bunch of A-list actors do more or less the same....not so good. This is the chief problem with "The Other Boleyn Girl", a lower budget period piece that appears to have maxed out its budget solely on costumes; it feels like a bunch of actors who decided to play dress-up, rather than an actual film; most of it appears to have been shot on location, but many of the buildings appear to have undergone almost no "fixing" in order to make them look more acceptable for the time frame of the film. Though the cast turns in solid work (including surprisingly good work from Natalie Portman as the scheming Anne Boleyn), there's an inescapable aura of "made-for-TV-movie" that hangs over the entire production. Not helping matters are director Justin Chatwick's limp direction and a surprisingly uneven script from Peter Morgan (who wrote the Oscar nominated screenplay for "The Queen"). Where the film does succeed though, is in the above mentioned acting, and the fact that it's quite hard to make this part of history boring. The rivalry between Anne and Mary Boleyn (whether real, fictional, or merely exaggerated) is interesting to watch and the film never becomes boring. Portman and Scarlet Johannson play off each other well as conniving Anne and gentle Mary, which is good because they are the core of the film. In the end, the movie ends up being something of a mixed bag; the actors are all trying hard, but the script, directing, and cinematography all seem rather lazily done, resulting in a "fine" (and interesting) but hardly stand out period piece.

Grade: B-/C+

Nominations: Best Actress - Natalie Portman(#4), Best Supporting Actress - Kirsten Scott Thomas(#5), Best Costume Design(#3), Best Original Score - Paul Cantelon(#3)

Number of 2008 films seen: 10

Monday, June 9, 2008

This has no relevance whatsoever and yet I feel compelled to post it...

A long time ago, in a decade far far away (called the 90's), there was a TV show about absolutely nothing, and it was the best damn thing ever to happen to TV. Though many newer, more "sophisticated" shows have tried to top it with fancy special effects, labyrinthine plots, and the lack of a studio audience, none, not even Tony Soprano or Jack Bauer or Betty Suarez can ever hope to top the majesty of "Seinfeld(Wars)"....

Exclusive clip from "Wall-E"

Sunday, June 8, 2008

"Reservation Road"(2007) - REVIEW

I think I'm officially done with finding movies that got pushed aside; As great a year as 2007 was, I think I've finally lost interest in investigating it any further (well....except for 28 Weeks Later). Even after I hit a high with "Sleuth" last night, I had a feeling that I was beginning to scrape the bottom of the metaphorical barrel. While Reservation Road is certainly not an awful film, it just feels so routine in its proceedings that the script somewhat undermines the solid work by the talented cast (led by Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, and Jennifer Connelly). Though the story is compelling, the execution leaves a lot to be desired; the most irritating thing is the way it relies on TV-Movie style coincidences (let's just say this film takes the expression "it's a small world" to a new level). It all just feels so unoriginal that it fails to stand out from similar family tragedy dramas. Not terrible, and it does have its affecting moments, but not enough to make a lasting impression.

Grade: C

Number of 2007 Films Seen: 66

The guys at Pixar sure know how to market their films....

I'm sure this is just a tiny fraction of the trailers, vignettes, and TV ads that were created among the Pixar marketing team. They've managed to take one of their riskier projects (very little actual dialogue; film functions as a bit of an homage to Charlie Chaplin films) and turned out some truly stellar marketing. They've turned a random little robot into a quirky, naive, and aw-shucks-adorable character. Have a look:

New trailer for "The Duchess"

I still can't tell if this is going to turn out good or bad, but it does look interesting....

Trailer for "007: Quantum of Solace" to arrive in 3 WEEKS

it will be attached to all showings of Will Smith's upcoming action film "Hancock". So you can shell out 8 bucks to sit through another cloying Will Smith blockbuster, or you can wait just a day or two longer, and see it here. The choice is yours...

Saturday, June 7, 2008

"Sleuth"(2007) - REVIEW

A good remake; it seems like the ultimate impossibility. Yet despite the challenges that would lay ahead, director Kenneth Branaugh chose to take on this foreboding task nonetheless. He now proudly joins the ranks of the few people to pull it off successfully in his unfairly maligned update of the 1972 film of the same name. Over 30 years have passed since the original film (1972), so Michael Caine, who played the young lover of the main character's wife, now trades roles while the role of the lover is given to Jude Law; both succeed magnificently. This is a good thing, considering that the film is mostly just Caine and Law talking to each other. Films that rely almost entirely on dialogue can be problematic: they have to maintain their quality and keep you on edge so you don't get tired of hearing two people talk for a film's entire running time (it should be noticed that this remake is roughly half the length of the original; 90 minutes). Luckily, Harold Pinter's screenplay shines with ruthless dialogue that's undercut by a wit as sharp as razor; some remarks come close to drawing blood. Think of it as a little gem that got lost amongst the overcrowded last quarter of 07...

Grade: A-

Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay - Harold Pinter(#5)

Number of 2007 Films Seen: 65

Six clips from "The Edge of Love"

and yes, that is Keira Knightley's actual singing voice in clip 4....

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Don't call Julianne Moore a "lady"...

This is a scene from Paul Thomas Anderson's 1999 film "Magnolia" (which I have never seen). In a recent poll of sorts on a website, a person asked what everyone thought was the most unintentionally funny scene of 1999. The voting process has yet to end, but after seeing a clip on youtube, I think we've got a winner (or would that be "loser"?):

It's the "WRONG!" that really gets me....

Teaser poster for Oliver Stone's "W" (formerly "Bush")

Amazingly, the film has actually been bumped up from it's early 2009 release date, to October of this year. Judging by the poster, which is littered with "Bush-isms", I think it's safe to assume that this is supposed to be a "Charlie Wilson's War"-esque satire. Even so, I have no faith in this movie whatsoever; I'm still convinced it will be a massive train wreck...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"Goya's Ghosts"(2007) - REVIEW

Well I guess even the most talented directors have to botch a project or two on occasion. It's unfortunate, because if there was one film that seemed like a sure fire recipe for success, it was this one. A cast led by Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman, produced by one of the men behind "The English Patient", and directed by Milos Forman, director of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Amadeus"(both of which he won Oscars for), not to mention that it's about a real person, "Goya's Ghosts" seemed like it would be right up the Academy's alley. Unfortunately, the script (co-written by Forman and some other guy) is a complete misfire. Set in the late 1700's, the film tells the story of famed Spanish painter Francisco Goya(a strangely cast Stellan Skarsgard)....sort of. It's hard to tell if Goya is supposed to be the movie's focus, or just a plot device designed to give the film a sense of.......reality?...relevance?....whatever. Anyway, young aristocrat Ines (Portman) is one of Goya's favorite models right around the time that the oh-so-corrupt Spanish Inquisition is beginning to suspect Goya of being a blasphemer. After a silly mixup, Ines is imprisoned on the charge of being a practicing Jew. She is sent to the Holy Office where she cracks under pressure and confesses to the false charge, landing her a ticket to hell on earth. Meanwhile, Brother (or Father...they call him both..) Lorenzo(Bardem) is having his portrait painted by Goya, who he has an amicable relationship with. Ines' parents (closer friends with Goya) worry about their daughter and ask if he can find a way to get her out quickly. On, and on the side, Lorenzo and Ines kinda sorta become.....lovers....friends with benefits.....yeah that sounds about right. Unfortunately after a little dinner party, Lorenzo finds himself humiliated and abandons the Church. Oh, and Goya's also painting a portrait for his other close (and very powerful) friend the queen of Spain, but even that isn't going so well. That's when Napoleon's forces burst on the scene. I hate to inform you (if you managed to survive reading that without falling into a confusion-induced coma) that I'm not doing a bad job of summarizing the movie; that's pretty much the best I can do with this gigantic misfire. However, messy story telling aside, the film's biggest crime is that it simply doesn't know what to be. Another period piece, the above mentioned "Amadeus", managed to capture a time period with both authentic seriousness and authentic humor, both of which were balanced to near perfection. Unfortunately the same does not hold true here; the dramatic and the humorous are often blended in unflattering scenarios that make it difficult to decide whether the film is supposed to be a dark comedy or a full on spoof. Making matters worse are the script's contrived attempts at "important" dialogue; there are a number of occasions where it feels like certain scenes were written just so that the writers could squeeze in these "awards-bait" gems, the most memorable of which goes something like this:

High Inquisitor (or something like that): You must confess.
Ines: Confess what? [she is hung from the ceiling with her arms tied behind her looks like it hurts]
High Inquisitor: Confess the truth.

However, there are some positives. The film does manage to hold one's interest, as sloppily written as it is, and it is informative about the conditions of Spain at the time. The production values are top notch and, much like Julie Taymor's vastly superior "Frida", many scenes look as though they could have been painted by Goya himself. However, these small good things are heavily outweighed; Bardem and Portman do solid work, but the lack of consistent languages and accents is annoying and distracting (everyone speaks English, but people whispering to each other in the background do so in Spanish). The score is another mistake, in that it flips between being overly jolly so as to almost sound satirical, to being so bombastic that it risks turning the whole show into a soap opera of sorts. A classic case of great talent gone to waste.

Grade: C-

Nominations: none

Number of 2007 films seen: 65

Sluts and the City SEQUEL on the horizon

Source: CLICK

This video perfectly captures my reaction:

"Cassandra's Dream"(2007)

- not much to say other than that this is essentially a much better (though not great) of Woody Allen's unbelievably overrated "Match Point".

- Philip Glass creates a perfectly dark, ominous, and unsettling score, though at times it sounds a bit too much like his work for "Notes on a Scandal".

- Parts feel rushed, with the actors sound like they had guns pointed at them the whole time; the line delivery is so quick it's almost annoying.

- hopefully Allen's upward swing continues with this year's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"....

Grade: B-

Nominations: None

# of 2007 films seen: 63

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Quick thoughts on "Se7en"(1995)

- David Fincher continues his directorial winning streak, though I think this might be the weakest of the three films of his that I've seen.

- The usual Fincher trademarks are there: excitement, strong performances, unique story, and great cinematography.

- This is the first Fincher film to NOT grab me within the first 10 minutes. It's the first time he's actually had a somewhat slow start before things really got going.

- Howard Shore's score is occasionally a bit over the top, even when the scenes on screen are already intense enough.

- David Fincher and Brad Pitt need to work together as much as possible; the change in Pitt's acting from this film to Fight Club (1999) is amazing. Hopefully another such "jump" will occur in this year's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".

- Did not see that ending coming......whoa.....

Grade: A-

Nominations for 1995: Best Picture(#2), Best Director - David Fincher(#2), Best Actor - Morgan Freeman(#1 WINNER), Best Actor - Brad Pitt (#3), Best Original Screenplay(#1 WINNER), Best Editing(#2), Best Cinematography(#1 WINNER), Best Makeup(#2)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, and Nicole Kidman all CONFIRMED for "Nine"

Maybe a better title would be "There Will be Singing".


Just take a look at this amazing cast:

A message to anyone who reads this blog......anyone..

I've changed the settings on the blog so now ANYONE out there, regardless of whether you have a blogger account or not, can write comments about the posts on this blog. At the bottom of each post in small print there should be something that says "X comments". Just click on that, and you can write a comment on any particular post; it can be a response, a question, or just an opinion (and I will answer questions).