Friday, October 31, 2008

Changeling - REVIEW

The first half of "Changeling" would be perfect material to build a drinking game around. Take a shot every time Angelina Jolie's Christine Collins says some variation of "He is NOT MY SON!", and I guarantee that it won't take long before you're plastered. Well, now that that's out of the way, let me go on and say that Changeling is actually quite a solid film, though it's leaps and bounds behind Clint Eastwood's best work. Though many are certain to proclaim Jolie's performance as the highlight, the real star here is the story itself, which is a classic case of truth being stranger (so much stranger) than any fiction concocted out of thin air. When single mom Christine Collins' son Walter goes missing in March of 1928, the LAPD sets out in search of the boy. Five months later, he is returned, except he's...different. Not only is he 3 inches shorter, but he's also circumcised. Pretty big differences. Surely, surely this would prompt the LAPD to reopen the case. That's where everything starts getting out of control. Not only do the LAPD try to convince Christine that the boy given to her is in fact her son despite glaring differences, but they make her seem as though she is an unfit mother, and worse, paranoid. For a time, things only get worse. However, in spite of its compelling source material, there's still something not quite right with the film as a whole. Though never boring, those 2 and a half hours almost go by too quickly, resulting in a lack of build up and true dramatic impact. Though artistic aspects are all top notch, there's still something odd about the art direction; it all looks a little too perfect, too sterile. And even though it's quite nice to listen to, the film's score often chimes in when unwelcome, trying to tell the audience what they should be feeling some 10 seconds or so before a "powerful/touching" scene actually arrives. Mr. Eastwood, if there's one thing I've never accused you of, it's being condescending toward your audience. Here, however, I must say that you are somewhat guilty. Perhaps the most odd complaint, given everything I've said above, about the film is...well...the story. Compelling? Certainly. Packed with twists and turns? You betcha. Meant to be put on the silver screen in its entirety? Perhaps not. While there may have been a fantastic way to weave in all the distant-yet-intimately-connected threads of the story, Michael Straczynki's script seems somewhat unfocused, and at times feels a little lacking in depth. And then there's Jolie's performance. Once again, she's perfectly fine, but I simply don't get much out of her as a heavy weight dramatic actress. This is a woman who is truly at her finest when playing badass action heroines (Tomb Raider, Mr. And Mrs. Smith, Wanted, etc...), not when she's playing emotionally tormented women. Even when she shrieks and cries with passion, there's still a certain dramatic heft that's missing, leaving the emotions as purely superficial. Leave those roles to Blanchett, Winslet, Kidman, and others of their caliber. Though I'm sure we'll never hear his name again, the young actor who plays a key role into figuring out the whereabouts of Christine's son actually steals the show, especially in a chilling interrogation scene where he reveals the horrific details of what he knows. Hell, even adorable Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone), who barely has 5 minutes of screentime accomplishes more than Jolie's neverending tears. In some ways, Jolie's performance is a perfect parallel to the film as a whole: beautiful and tragic, but never deep enough to fully immerse its audience.

Grade: B-

Nominations: None

Number of 2008 films seen: 38

Final trailer for "Valkyrie"

Meh. Not nearly as good as the one released in September with the nerve wrecking ticking clock noise. Still, it does look interesting, and it now seems hard to believe that people were predicting this to be a total train wreck.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trailer for "Slumdog Millionaire"

Looks really good. Could be the surprise indie hit of the year.

Teaser trailer for "Angels and Demons"(2009)

It looks good....although that's what I said about The Da Vinci Code and that turned out to be a disaster. Here's hoping this one is better.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


If he's being serious, then this is really a shame. He had potential to be one of the best actors of his generation.

Source: ExtraTv.Warnerbrothers

Joaquin Phoenix: Leaving the Silver Screen?
"Extra" caught up with actor Joaquin Phoenix, and the "Walk the Line" star dropped a shocker -- is he really leaving show biz?!

Yes! Last night at the Paul Newman benefit, the Oscar nominee told "Extra," "I want to take this opportunity... also to give you the exclusive and just talk a little bit about the fact that this will be my last performance as an actor... I'm not doing films anymore."

"Extra's" Jerry Penacoli, shocked by the news, further probed Joaquin. "Are you serious?" Phoenix, who was curiously being followed by his own camera crews, reiterated, "Yeah. I'm working on my music. I'm done. I've been through that."

Actor Casey Affleck, present during the admission, tells "Extra", "I don't think he's kidding. He's got music and stuff."

Today, "Extra" contacted Phoenix's rep for clarification and got this response: "That is what he told me."

Poster for Danny Boyle's (28 Days Later, Sunshine) "Slumdog Millionaire"

Hard to believe that something so uplifting could come from the man who gave us a zombie apocalypse and a world where the sun was dying, but apparently it's pretty amazing.

4 new pictures from "Angels and Demons"(2009)

Looks like Tom Hanks is still rocking that mullet like it never went out of style. Pity...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Walt Disney Studios and Pixar are getting (even more) ambitious

Source: New York Times

Studios Are Pushing Box Office Winners as Oscar Contenders

LOS ANGELES — Walt Disney is in. This week the studio will break new ground by starting a campaign that boldly offers its “Wall-E” as a contender for the best picture Oscar, an honor never yet won by an animated film.

Warner Brothers is in, too. That studio recently telegraphed plans for a multifront Oscar campaign for its Batman blockbuster “The Dark Knight” by sending awards voters a query about their preferred format for promotional DVDs.

Not to be outdone, Paramount may join the party. Along with Marvel Enterprises, it is weighing an Oscar push for “Iron Man” and its lead actor, Robert Downey Jr., even while promoting Mr. Downey as best supporting actor for his role in the DreamWorks comedy hit “Tropic Thunder.”

Welcome to the pop Oscars.

After years of giving plenty of running room to independent film companies or studio art house divisions that set the pace with critic-friendly but limited-audience films like last year’s “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood,” this year the major studios are pushing some of their biggest crowd-pleasers into the thick of the awards race.

Their approaching multimillion-dollar campaigns come at a time when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose 6,000-plus members award the Oscars, is planning to give its annual show a more commercially popular flavor. In part the academy’s producers will do that by including glimpses of the year’s box office favorites, whether or not they are nominated for prizes.

The shift is coming about partly because companies in the last year have either folded specialty divisions like Warner Independent Films, which in 2006 had a best picture nominee in “Good Night, and Good Luck,” or downsized them, as Paramount did with Paramount Vantage, which in 2007 had a nominee in “Babel.”

Shrinkage in the small-film business has left more room for big studios to play the Oscar game. Awaiting awards pushes are films like Universal’s “Frost/Nixon,” directed by Ron Howard; Paramount’s “Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a David Fincher film starring Brad Pitt; and 20th Century Fox’s “Australia,” a Baz Luhrmann epic starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.

(“Australia,” still unseen by critics, does not arrive until December but was screened in unfinished form for Oprah Winfrey, who is expected to feature it with star interviews on her show next week, kicking off the studio’s campaign.)

At the same time Hollywood’s blockbusters, rich in effects and increasingly complex in their themes, appear to have become more award-worthy of late.

“Wall-E,” from Disney’s Pixar unit, emerged as a darling of the critics for its adult sensibility, in addition to its heavily detailed computer animation. The film, the story of a lovesick robot, tackles a serious topic (environmentalism) while taking huge risks (for instance, a 45-minute stretch with nearly no dialogue).

As early as midsummer Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal’s film critic, was arguing that “Wall-E” should be considered for best picture. “The time to start the drumbeat is now,” he wrote in a July 12 essay, noting the extreme difficulty animated films, while hugely popular, have faced in vying for the most prestigious Oscar. Only one, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” released in 1991, has ever been nominated for best picture.

“If we didn’t do it, I don’t think we’d be giving the movie its due,” Richard Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said of the decision to promote “Wall-E” for the top prize, even if that complicates the movie’s simultaneous bid for the more easily won award as best animated feature. One problem is a presumed tendency to split votes. Academy members can vote for a film in both the best picture and best animated feature categories. But they may not be inclined to do that or even know that the rules permit it.

In the past films more appealing than self-consciously artistic were routinely included in the Oscar mix. “Ghost,” the No. 1 movie at the box office in 1990, with $506 million in worldwide ticket sales, won five nominations, including one for best picture. “There was much less campaigning back then, and the academy tended to go more with what moved them emotionally, even if it was a big commercial hit,” said Lisa Weinstein, a producer of “Ghost.”

The last runaway hit to win a best picture Oscar was “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2003. In the years since the prize has gone to “Million Dollar Baby,” “Crash,” “The Departed” and “No Country for Old Men” — the combined domestic box office sales for which fell short of the $377 million taken in by “The Return of the King.”

The drift away from audience-oriented contenders has precipitated a sharp drop in viewers for the annual Oscar show. Last year’s program, with Jon Stewart as host, was the least watched on record, with about 32 million viewers in the United States. The highest rating was 55.3 million in 1998, when the immensely popular “Titanic” won the big prize.

Ultimately, of course, the academy’s voting members will decide whether the year’s more popular and mainstream offerings make the cut. They will have plenty of artier options, including “Rachel Getting Married,” Jonathan Demme’s intricate look at a family coping with a drug-addicted daughter played by Anne Hathaway, and “Revolutionary Road,” a period romance directed by Sam Mendes and starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. “Slumdog Millionaire,” from the director Danny Boyle, and “Milk,” directed by Gus Van Sant with Sean Penn in the lead role, are also in the running — all with backing from studio specialty divisions.

Studio Oscar campaigners are largely reluctant to discuss their reasoning and strategies publicly for fear of overreaching with the academy’s finicky voters. However, several noted a belief that audiences — weary of economic crisis and political strife — are ready for a dose of fun from the entertainment industry.

“People like to vote for winners, and this year there are box office winners that also exhibit incredible craft,” said Amanda Lundberg, a partner at the New York publicity firm 42 West, an Oscar campaign powerhouse.

In that spirit, Disney will open its “Wall-E” campaign with something of a wink, by taking an advertisement that transforms the logo of a famous industry trade paper to read “Variet-E.” Warner’s campaign for “The Dark Knight” will get a boost from both a Dec. 9 DVD release and an expected rerelease, on both standard and Imax screens, as the awards season peaks in January.

If, as expected, “Iron Man” comes into the awards mix, that will be partly because Paramount recently moved a more conventional prospect, a drama called “The Soloist,” into next year and out of contention. That film, which stars Mr. Downey alongside Jamie Foxx, had promised to complicate the studio’s life at a time when it saw awards potential for the currently very hot Mr. Downey in three pictures at once.

Meanwhile, those who create the Oscar ceremony — to be shown on Feb. 22 on ABC — are determined this time around to connect with the people, and lots of them.

The academy has lifted a 50-year ban on commercials for coming movies during the Oscar telecast in the hope of creating more of a feeling of “event” television for movie fans by including more splashy ads. Organizers (and ABC’s advertising sales staff) are hoping to take a page from the Super Bowl, at which movie studios have often shown exclusive footage of big-budget summer movies to start generating fan interest.

And there will most certainly be superheroes and villains present on Oscar night, whether or not Mr. Downey receives a nomination for his role as Tony Stark in “Iron Man,” or Heath Ledger is nominated for his portrayal of the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

“Not only should the Oscar show celebrate excellence in the movies of the year; we believe it should also celebrate the movies,” said Laurence Mark, the producer of the next ceremony, sounding what has become a theme for the year.

“We just need to figure out a way that is appropriate to do that.”

Alan Rickman, Christopher Lee, and Michael Sheen (Tony Blair in The Queen) join Burton's "Alice in Wonderland"!!

Though Rickman and Lee were almost predictable choices, Sheen is a surprising (and inspired) pick for the Cheshire Cat.

The cast for Tim Burton's upcoming live action/CGI hybrid re-imagining of Lewis Carroll's classic, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, is growing by leaps and bounds. So far, we have Mia Wasikowska as the titular Alice, Jonny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts, Matt Lucas as Tweedledum and Tweedledee and Michael Sheen in an unspecified role. Today, we can add three more names to that list, as well as reveal Sheen's role. According to Zdonk, Sheen has been cast as the Cheshire Cat and Alan Rickman has been cast as the Caterpillar. Further, according to "Christopher Lee Web", the Brit veteran has been cast in an unspecified role. Finally, THIS SITE is saying that young Eleanor Tomlinson has been cast as Alice's friend Fiona Chataway, who appears at the film's onset in a role written specifically for the movie. Whew! The film's set for release March 5th, 2010.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

International "Half Blood Prince" teaser trailer!

Watch it while you can; the studio may take it down since it's obviously old (it still claims the film is coming out this year). Really great new footage.

Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter join Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland"(2010)!!

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised at HBC's inclusion, but it's great to know that two years from now I'll get to see her as the Queen of Hearts!

Source: The Telegraph

Burton has cast his actress partner, Helena Bonham Carter, as the Red Queen who cries: "Off with their heads!"

Hathaway, star of The Devil Wears Prada and The Princess Diaries, plays the more kindly monarch.

Johnny Depp has already signed up to play the Mad Hatter, with newcomer Mia Wasikowska as Alice. Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams are to appear as Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

The film is a mix of live action and CGI, and filming is under way in Cornwall with a release date set for spring 2010.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Review roundup

It just occurred to me that I haven't been posting of non-2008 films in quite a yeah, I thought maybe I'd just catch anyone who's interested up on what I've been seeing from yesteryear (aka: the past two months).

1. Blood Simple (1984): The Coen brothers' debut; now I understand why people call it one of the best debut's ever. It's simple. It's bloody. And it's brilliant (the camera work is phenomenal).

Grade: A
Nominations: Best Picture(#2), Best Director(s) - Joel and Ethan Coen(#2), Best Actor - M. Emmett Walsh(#3), Best Original Screenplay(#1 WINNER), Best Editing(#2), Best Cinematography(#3)

2. Miller's Crossing(1990): One of the Coen brother's earlier efforts, this one seemed to be an attempt to show the world that they could do really really complex stories. Though the period is a nice change for them, I couldn't help but feel a little underwhelmed by this one. There's certainly plenty to love: strong performances, good production design, and some riotously black comedy moments (this film showcases the Coen's dialogue at its best). However, by the end, it felt like things had become a little too complex, almost bordering on weak contrivance. Still, it's quite a strong film in many other regards. However, I think their immediate follow up in a similar time period (Barton Fink) is vastly superior.

Grade: B/B+
Nominations: Best Picture(#2), Best Director(s) - The Coens, Best Actor - Gabriel Byrne(#2), Best Supporting Actor - Jon Turturro(#4), Best Supporting Actor - Albert Finney(#3), Best Supporting Actress - Marcia Gay Harden(#2), Best Art Direction(#1 WINNER), Best Costume Design(#1 WINNER), Best Original Score - Carter Burwell(#2)

3. Breaking the Waves(1996): The first of Lars von Trier's "suffering female protagonists" trilogy, this one centers on simple minded Bess (an astounding Emily Watson, making her acting debut), who goes through some....unusual trials in order to help her injured husband (Stellan Skarsgard). Hard to get through, but mostly worth the pay off. Great soundtrack too.

Grade: B+
Nominations: Best Picture(#2), Best Director - Lars Von Trier(#2), Best Actress - Emily Watson(#1 WINNER...sorry Frances McDormand, I still love you in Fargo), Best Original Screenplay

4. Almost Famous(2000): Another movie that some people I know wouldn't shut up about that I was determined to not like (or at least find wildly overrated), I actually really loved this film. The first 30 minutes is a little uneven, but once it gets going it's absolutely wonderful. Dammit Kate Hudson, why can't you choose more roles like this?

Grade: A
Nominations: Best Picture(#2), Best Director - Cameron Crowe(#3), Best Supporting Actress - Frances McDormand(#1 WINNER), Best Supporting Actress - Kate Hudson(#2), Best Original Screenplay(#2), Best Editing(#2)

5. In the Mood for Love(2001): Proof that shorter isn't necessarily better, Wong Kar Wai's toned down romance isn't as visually engagning nor as emotionally involving as the 2005 sequel "2046". However, performances are strong and the soundtrack is great.

Grade: B+
Nominations: Best Actor - Tony Leung(#2), Best Actress - Maggie Cheung(#2), Best Original Screenplay(#5), Best Costume Design(#3)

6. Dancer in the Dark(2000): Part two of the above mentioned "suffering female protagonists" trilogy, this film bears more in common with Dogville (aka Part III) in that it is more experimental (Lars von Trier and musical aren't two things that belond together). However, Dancer outdoes both Breaking the Waves and Dogville in emotional impact; the final scenes of this 2.5 hour drama are unbelievably devastating (who knew Bjork could act?).

Grade: A+
Nominations: Best Picture(#1 WINNER), Best Director - Lars Von Trier(#1 WINNER), Best Actress - Bjork(#1 WINNER), Best Supporting Actress - Catherine Deneuve(#5), Best Original Screenplay(#1 WINNER), Best Original Song - I've seen it all(#1 WINNER)

7. Barton Fink(1991): Another Coen brothers' gem, mixing in the period setting and more complicated plot of Miller's crossing with a whole different side to the Coens. Featuring outstanding performances, Barton Fink doesn't have the usual subversive Coen bros. humor, but it does pack some brilliant stylistic and narrative touches , in particular the second half where things start getting more than a little disturbing and "Shining-esque" (the numerous eerily lit hallway shots). Some points off for the second half hour, which drags a bit, but kudos for a brilliantly twisted second half (the bizarre parallel of Hollywood executives to the rise of Nazism? warped genius).

Grade: A
Nominations: Best Picture(#2), Best Directors - Joel and Ethan Coen(#2), Best Actor - John Turturro(#2), Best Supporting Actor - John Goodman(#1 WINNER), Best Supporting Actor - John Mahoney(#3), Best Original Screenplay(#1 WINNER), Best Editing(#2), Best Cinematography(#1 WINNER), Best Art Direction(#1 WINNER), Best Costume Design(#1 WINNER), Best Original Score - Carter Burwell(#??)

Final trailer for "Zack and Miri"

a touching romantic comedy about two roomates........and a really low budget porn film.....just in time for the holidays...

Zack and Miri Make a Porno in HD

Trailer for Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino"

Interesting, but it also looks a bit heavy handed. That, and Eastwood seems a little over the top in some parts (though maybe that's just because we're seeing them out of context...).

New picture from "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" (aka, Heath Ledger's final role)

New poster and trailer for "Watchmen"

It's looking pretty good, although some of the special effects still look a little...."plastic" (the movie doesn't come out until March, so hopefully they'll spend the next few months polishing the effects). Either way, I am really excited for this movie. However, a word of warning: only watch the video through the first 1 min and 50 seconds. The rest is a new "Twilight" trailer...and nobody should have to put themselves through that....

First "Inglorious Bastards" teaser posters (click for larger versions)

Friday, October 24, 2008

3 New "Quantum of Solace" posters

International "Australia" trailer

It's more or less the same as the theatrical/TV trailer that's been shown during Desparate Housewives and Mad Men, with a few cool (but brief) new scenes. Some things are completely different (that scene of the boat sailing against a wall of smoke and flames? Now it's clearly a large battleship sinking into the water), so it's safe to assume that the "full trailer" was put together even before all of the special effects had been finalized. There's another trailer out there with a shot of the old mystic watching explosions going off behind him, but I don't know where that trailer went. Anyways, enjoy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I finally saw it - the George W. Bush movie - and I lived to tell the tale. And to be perfectly frank, it's not anywhere near the trainwreck I thought it would be. Maybe that's because Oliver Stone, FOR ONCE, doesn't take a ridiculous slant to this project (as opposed to JFK), and even then, it STILL comes across as a factual Greek tragedy. Obviously a film about such a controversial (and very much alive) figure such as Bush is bound to sharply divide audiences, but even then, there's still going to be some middle ground; some gray area. This is where I fall. Though it's hard not to feel strangely....moved? touched? affected? by certain moments (especially in the latter half), there's something mildly squirm inducing about this film - I almost feel guilty for seeing it, and I have no idea why (I'm not exaggerating, I'm starting to feel slightly nauseous). It's not like this is a shamless celebration of Bush, nor is it an over the top bashing fest, yet the fact that most of the events in the film are either true or structured around generalized truths makes it somewhat odd to behold. All in all, it's probably too little too soon, but even so, it is an interesting piece. {I'll probably edit in more stuff, but I can bearly concentrate right now}

Grade: B-

Nominations: None

Number of 2008 films seen: 37

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Crazy McCain rally lady!

God bless Kristen Wiig.

BBC RAVES "007: Quantum of Solace"!!

The full review can be found HERE

...And it's a brave step to push even further a lot of the themes developed in Casino Royale, especially the rediscovery of who Bond is, and why he is the way he is.

It's a film that feels like the second part of a trilogy, with this being the bleaker second act.

For a lot of the movie Bond is a particularly unsympathetic character, and often it's only Craig's performance along with the shifting morality of Bond's legion of enemies that forces the audience to root for him.

Olga Kurylenko, who plays a refreshingly different kind of female companion, does well with a part that has far more depth than most Bond girls.

And Gemma Arterton is superb in her brief role as an agent whom Bond encounters in Bolivia, cementing her position as one of cinema's brightest young stars.

As ever the end credits promise that James Bond will return, and thanks to Quantum of Solace, the sense of anticipation for this should be particularly high.

Not to see what super villain Bond will be battling, but to discover what the next stage will be in a character that Daniel Craig has managed to reinvent and develop movie by movie.

Rachel Getting Married - REVIEW

Movies like "Rachel Getting Married" are always tricky to review. Much like "Margot at the Wedding" or "The Squid and the Whale", the story is driven mostly by layers of emotion, rather than a structured A to B, B to C, C to D, etc... type format. However, "Rachel" does have a bit more structure than the other two, and it boasts something even more striking: realistically dysfunctional people who DON'T make me want to kill myself. Though they bicker and snipe, the discord in the central family is somewhat understandable - it stems from a significant family trauma. However, like Margot at the Wedding, it does boast a very strong central performance, only this time it's Anne Hathaway. That's right, that girl from "The Princess Diaries" can actually act, and she can act damn well. Though at times shrill, her character Kym is actually pitiable because of what has happened to her (unlike Nicole Kidman's Margot, who I wanted to strangle). In one particular scene, Kym stands to toast her betrothed sister Rachel (Mad Men's Rosemarie Dewitt), and as she continues to fumble, she begins to briefly breakdown, before regaining her composure. It's a mature and strong performance that showcases Hathaway's till now unutilized acting skills. However, best of all, the film manages to end on something of a high (ish) note, as opposed to the randomness of Margot or Squid's endings. The wedding itself, is obviously jovial, and brings everyone together after two days of fighting, but even it is punctured by brief glimpses of Kym struggling with her past. My biggest complaint with the film, however, is that once we get to the wedding, director Jonathan Demme seems more interested in focusing on the music (there's barely any dialogue during the reception), and limits his actors. However, as a whole, this devastating little movie is still much better than the usual "realistic dysfunctional family drama" movie, especially considering the main character, who for once, has shreds of likeability.

Grade: B+

Nominations: Best Actress - Anne Hathaway(#1 WINNER), Best Supporting Actress - Rosemarie Dewitt(#4)

Number of 2008 films seen: 36
Top 10 of the Year:
1. The Dark Knight
3. In Bruges
4. Burn After Reading
5. The Fall
6. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
7. The Duchess
8. Tropic Thunder
9. Rachel Getting Married
10. Boy-A

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More scheduling chaos! The Soloist bumped to 2009!!

Alright...this is getting RIDICULOUS.

Source: Deadline Hollywood

UPDATED WRITETHRU: There's fallout today from Paramount's newly announced decision to release 20 movies a year. Already bigwigs are shuffling the 2008-2009 release schedule -- and that has Oscar ramifications for one pic. I can tell you that DreamWorks is very upset because Paramount is taking its Robert Downey Jr-Jamie Foxx starrer The Soloist out of Academy Awards contention by moving it from a limited release on November 21st until March 13, 2009. This is extreme since ads on all sorts of media platforms have already started appearing for the Oscar-touted movie based on Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez' accounts of a homeless violin player. Soloist insiders fear the delay will prompt a lot of web speculation that something is "wrong" with Joe Wright's pic when everything is right. I'm surprised especially because Downey has really good awards season and box office heat from Iron Man. But Paramount instead will be pushing the actor for Tropic Thunder consideration.

Paramount also is delaying its Vantage pic Defiance, the Ed Zwick-directed Academy Award hopeful starring Daniel Craig in the true story of four Jewish brothers battling the Nazis. The movie was supposed to come out December 12th, but it will be pushed back to an Oscar-qualifying run on December 31st, and then go wide January 16th. So the delay won't interfere with its 2008 Oscar chances.

Conspiracy theorists will postulate that Paramount did all this so it could put more of its Oscar campaign money into The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and Revolutionary Road this year. But it has nothing to do with that." It has to do with the metrics of managing its numbers," one Paramount defender tells me. In English, that means more of the "economic reality" which studio boss Brad Grey explained to Paramount employees yesterday in that house memo. The studio is looking for "consistency of product" now that it's releasing 20 movies a year so I'm told it took these steps to make sure "we don't have a giant hole next year."

Speaking of "The Road"........more unsettling news...

This is from a test screening held some time over the past two months...and contrary to the early script reviews, it's not terribly kind. Maybe the (brilliant) novel simply isn't fit for the silver screen.....yikes...

" was just a complete mess…the film never pretends to be interested in its opaque story, replacing what I assume would be literary details with bleak, miserablist [sic] moments edited together randomly, none feeling like they emerged from the same film. It might just be unadaptable, because after the first twenty minutes the rest of the film is a crushing bore of a foregone conclusion- I think you can all guess what happens to the one character who mysteriously coughs all the time.

The focus group I attended railed against the repetitive score, which was probably temp but sounded like a minimalist new Nick Cave score that was heavy on the piano and droned through the heavily dramatic moments.

There's no "movie" there. The main crux- that Earth has fallen into a post-apocalyptic wasteland- is dealt with pretty vaguely, enough to the point where there's really no allegorical parallel at all, and as far as intimate post-apocalyptic movies, they tend to be similar, in that they involve lots and lots of walking until someone important dies, and that seems to be the formula this follows. The focus group also tore into Charlize Theron's flashback role as Viggo's estranged wife, who comes across as a screaming harpy with only a couple of minutes of screentime who unpleasantly ditches the family for no explicit purpose, as well as Michael K. Williams' role as the only black man in the film, a guy who robs the hero and ends up humbled and without his clothes- cries of racism, as you could guess.

Product placement abounds as well, to a distracting level. Apparently there is a Coca Cola scene in the book, but in the film it plays like a separate commercial, as Viggo gives his son his first Coke. The boy remarks at how fizzy and delicious it is and the dad lets him finish it on his own as the child asks, "Is that because it's the last one I'll ever have?"

Harvey Weinstein was at the screening, and he left early- whatever that means, I'll leave to the pundits. But not only is the film unfinished for its supposed November release date, it's also a complete fiasco on every creative level."

NOOOOOOOO!!!! Not "The Road" too!

Execs to meet Thursday to discuss film's release

By Steven Zeitchik

Oct 15, 2008, 10:50 PM ET

The Viggo Mortensen dark thriller "The Road," a Dimension title from the Weinstein Co., originally was set for a Nov. 14 limited and Nov. 26 wide release. Now it quietly has been shifted until at least December -- and might be moved out of 2008 altogether.

Execs are scheduled to meet with "Road's" producers Thursday to discuss whether the movie will bow this year; the discussions come as Harvey Weinstein has pushed ahead with Stephen Daldry's "The Reader" for a Dec. 10 opening.

2929 Entertainment and Nick Wechsler Prods. are producing the film, based on Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic tale about a man and his son wandering a bleak landscape.

Given another McCarthy novel resulted in the Oscar-winning "No Country for Old Men" and Mortensen was nominated last year for "Eastern Promises," "Road" has been mentioned as an awards contender.

But John Hillcoat's movie, shot this year mainly in Pennsylvania, is in post and decidedly not done, those familiar with the project said.

With the Weinstein Co. invested in "Reader" -- which the company is positioning as a commercial and awards play -- there might be less urgency to make "Road" an '08 title, though one observer noted: "There's no question Harvey wants this for 2008. But it may just not be feasible."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My blog is 1 year old today!!

Trailer for "Franklyn" starring Eva Green and Ryan Phillippe

I remember hearing about this weird little movie a long time ago. Nice to see that the final product looks really good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New trailer for "Seven Pounds" looks a little more interesting...but this has to be one of the worst uses of epic trailer music EVER.

Stupid decision of the day: Terrence Howard drops out of Iron Man 2

Don Cheadle is stepping in to replace Terrence Howard in "Iron Man 2," Marvel Studios' sequel to its summer blockbuster.

In the movie, Howard played Jim Rhodes, Tony Stark/Iron Man's best friend and future armor-clad hero War Machine. One scene featured Howard looking at a silver suit of armor and saying "Next time," a line that caused great delight for fans.

But there will be no next time for Howard.

Marvel had no comment, but sources close to the deal said negotiations with Howard fell through over financial differences, among other reasons. Marvel, which had wanted to work with Cheadle, then decided to take the role in another direction and approached the actor, who is shooting Antoine Fuqua's "Brooklyn's Finest" with Richard Gere and Ethan Hawke.

Rhodes is expected to play a larger part in the sequel, which is rumored to go beyond high-tech villains. Justin Theroux is writing the screenplay.

Jon Favreau is returning as director, and Robert Downey Jr. is expected back as billionaire industrialist Stark/Iron Man. Gwyneth Paltrow also is expected to be back as Stark's assistant, Pepper Potts.

Cheadle, repped by UTA, most recently starred in "Traitor," a thriller on which he was also a producer. He will next be seen in DreamWorks' "Hotel for Dogs."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Marion Cotillard and Nicole Kidman already planning second collaboration

I'm sorry, but how awesome is the trailer for this going to look (assuming it gets made):
Academy Award Winner Nicole Kidman
Academy Award Winner Marion Cotillard
from Academy Award Winning Director Steven Spielberg

This movie needs to get made with these three people involved.

Source: Variety

...including "The Rivals," starring Nicole Kidman and Marion Cotillard -- stay at Paramount, with Spielberg able to co-finance which ones he chooses. If he doesn't co-finance, and he's a producer or director on any of those projects, he'll get his 7.5% gross deal.

The film is about the rivalry between 19th century stage stars, SARAH BERNHARDT and ELEONORA DUSE - who competed in their careers as well as in social circles and romantically.

More youthful than Bernhardt, Italian-born Duse became a threat to the older actress and, as the rivalry escalated, both would play the same part on the same night to allow critics the chance to compare their performances.

Trailer for "I've Loved You So Long"

The movie has been getting solid reviews, but woefully underrated actress Kristen Scott Thomas is apparently incredible in it. I love that music in the second half too....

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Duchess - REVIEW

Another year, another middling period piece with pretty costumes and iffy storytelling. That's what I was expecting as I went into "The Duchess" this evening, and for the first 30 minutes or so, that's what I got. Then something happens. Something that finally causes Georgiana (pronounced Jor-Jane-Uh, for whatever reason) to confront her cold husband. As her life finally begins to go through its highs and lows, the movie finally takes flight, and those first 30 minutes are nothing more than a mild nuisance. Such is the surprise of Saul Dibb's plainly directed, yet strikingly well acted and beautifully mounted adaptation of the novel "Georgiana: The Duchess of Spencer". At the ago of 16, Geogiana (Keira Knightley, bringing true movie star presence) is married off to the much older Duke of Spencer (superbly constrained Ralph Fiennes), and whisked into a strict, and not terribly warm marriage (the Duke shows more around his hunting dogs than around her). While it's a surprise that the films is mostly well paced and engaging, the bigger surprise is Knightley herself. After looking beautiful but not doing much in "Atonement", she really gets to shine here all while looking ridiculously beautiful whenever she's on screen. Two scenes in particular bring out dramatic depth, though I'd be spoiling things if I told you what they were. Perhaps the best part about The Duchess, however, is the story. Too many period pieces (especially ones set in this time period) try only focus on the "woes" of the rich (Oh dear, we're poor! Now we'll have to leave the mansion and go live at the three story country estate! Woe is me!). The Duchess narrows its focus on to the much more authentic plight of a woman who had everything, yet nothing at once; a woman who, because of the laws of the day, was absolutely powerless, despite her high status. In doing this, The Duchess becomes more effective in showcasing that even the wealthiest (and, as it were, the most attractive) women of the day were still treated as objects, fit only for producing at least one male heir. The only thing that's surprisingly lacking is the cinematography, which while not inconsistently poor (I'm looking at you, Brideshead Revisited), isn't as striking as one would expect from this sort of movie; there seems to be an odd dimness hanging over even the brightest party scenes, which is why it's a relief that the costumes are so damn great. However, let's get back to Knightley. For the longest time, it has seemed that she was the type of actress whose performance quality depended on the director she was working with, Joe Wright bringing out her best ever (Pride and Prejudice). Because of this, it seems surprising, that such a disposable director brings out her second best performance ever. Maybe she doesn't need exquisite camera angles and dreamy tracking shots...maybe she just needs a director who has enough sense to do away with showing off and simply let her carry a scene.

Grade: B+

Nominations: Best Actor - Ralph Fiennes(#4), Best Actress - Keira Knightley(#1 WINNER), Best Adapted Screenplay(#4), Best Costume Design(#2), Best Art Direction(#4), Best Original Score - Rachel Portman(#3)

Number of 2008 films seen: 35

Top 10 of the Year:
1. The Dark Knight
3. In Bruges
4. Burn After Reading
5. The Fall
6. Vicky Cristina
7. The Duchess
8. Tropic Thunder
9. Boy-A
10. Ghost Town

Friday, October 10, 2008

New poster and trailer for "Defiance"

this movie is really shaping up to be a lot better than I thought it would be.

New "Australia" poster

As much as I want to see this movie, I'm not too crazy about this one.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New poster for "Frost/Nixon"

It's nice looking and everything, but I'm starting to get tired of this whole "intercut panel close-ups of the main actors and nothing else" style of film posters. Show us more than faces please...

Unsettling news for "The Reader"

Basic re-shoots a few months from release are nothing to be worried about....but actual COMPLETION of the film? Round the clock editing/scoring sessions? Yikes....

Source: The LA Times.

Scott Rudin is walking away from "The Reader." The Oscar winning producer, who has been embroiled for weeks in a nasty squabble with Harvey Weinstein over the release date of the film, has decided to quit the project and take his name off the film. The two men have had a very contentious public feud over Weinstein's insistence that the film be released this year for Oscar consideration. Rudin and the film's director, Stephen Daldry, had insisted they needed more time to finish the picture. After intense negotiations, they eventually agreed late last month that, in return for Weinstein putting up more money for round-the-clock editing, scoring sessions and optical work, Daldry would finish the film in time for a Dec. 12th release.

In recent days, negotiations had apparently taken a turn for the worse. Upset with Weinstein and worried that many of his long-standing talent relationships would be harmed, Rudin decided to separate himself from the project. Daldry remains contractually obligated to complete the film, though it's uncertain of how he will complete the film without Rudin, a longtime collaborator with both Daldry and David Hare, who were the creative team on "The Hours." There have been constant rumors that the Weinstein Co., whose hits have been few and far between, has financial problems which may have contributed to Rudin's departure. It's also possible that the two men simply can't put their personal differences aside long enough to get the movie into theaters. Whatever the root cause, this is another body blow to "The Reader," which loses a strong producer who is always a major force during awards season. Rudin will continue as producer of two other year-end pictures, "Revolutionary Road" and "Doubt."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Final trailer for "W"

It would have been easier to watch had it not been for that godawful song in the background. Even so, it does look interesting to say the least.....

It was too good to be true.....*sigh*

It’s the second most successful movie of all-time, a cultural tour de force that’s reverberated with critics and fans alike, redefining what a summer blockbuster and a comic movie can be capable of.

To paraphrase the Joker himself: It’s changed things. There’s no going back.

But there is, of course, going forward. Three months removed from “The Dark Knight,” and it seems all anybody wants to talk about is “Batman 3” – a new “scoop” coming our way every couple of days.

Yet whether it’s that Chris Nolan has signed on, and will start pre-production early next year, or that Johnny Depp and Philip Seymour Hoffman will play the villains, or that Cher (Cher!) is lining up to wear Catwoman’s claws, there’s one thing that each and every supposed scoop has in common, “Batman Begins” and “Dark Knight” storyman David Goyer told MTV News:

“It’s all B.S.,” he said. “ALL of it.”

That means, no, Nolan has not signed on (yet). No, there is no casting, let alone TALK, of villains, and, no, nobody is certain to return.

“Chris and I haven’t even talked about it. He quite understandably is taking a long, long vacation and wants to purge himself,” Goyer said.

Goyer means they haven’t talked about it “officially,” although, of course, he does admit – as he did when we chatted in July – that they’ve loosely bandied about themes and more.

“We have mused here and there [but] I mean Chris is pretty much a one movie at a time kind of guy,” Goyer said. “I wish I could tell you more. There really isn’t anything to tell.”

So continue to have fun with the speculation, the talk, the great debate fans have argued about back and forth in posts like the above on theme, and others. Goyer himself called the fan speculation “amusing.”

Just know there isn’t anything official. And when there is?

“If and when [Chris is] ready to talk - we’ll talk,” he promised.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mutant Bond Girls!

Bond girls have long been exceptional women. From Ursula Andress to Halle Berry, they have each embodied the feminine ideal of their particular time. Gemma Arterton, the statuesque stunner who plays Agent Fields in next month's Quantum of Solace, has proven herself to be exceptional not only for her English Rose beauty, but also because she was born with six fingers on each hand.

"It's my little oddity that I'm really proud of," she said to Esquire magazine. "It makes me different." Different indeed. The condition, called Polydactyly, occurs in 1 of every 500 births.

Don't bother looking for additional digits in the film, though. As a child, the surplus digits were "tied," which causes the boneless protrusions to fall off with time. She still bares bumpy scars where her extra appendages once were.

Earlier this year, she revealed that she was also born with a crumpled ear, which was surgically corrected in childhood. "I was born with lots of deformities," the 22-year-old actress told the British press.

Arterton, a graduate of London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art who was best known for a BBC adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles," beat out 1,500 contenders to become the latest Bond girl. She admitted to InStyle magazine that having to kiss Daniel Craig on her first day working on the film had her "giggling left, right, and center and being really immature."

Next up for Arterton is the movie adaptation of the videogame Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, coming the summer of 2010. To see more of the genetically unusual but undeniably extraordinary future star, watch the behind-the-scenes video from "Quantum of Solace" below.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another test screening rave for "Australia"

nice to see that this is one film that's gaining better test screening reviews as it nears completion, unlike some....*cough*Changeling*cough*...

Source: Ain't it Cool News (which is surprisingly reliable for test screening reviews, in spite of the silly name)...

Well that was interesting; I just had a rather unusual and incredibly cool screening experience here in lovely Aliso Viejo getting to see a pre-release cut of Australia by Baz Luhrmann. Unusual in that the guy handing out the invite had no idea what the film was. And cool in that I will go see this AGAIN when it's playing for real.

This isn't the movie you might expect from Baz Luhrmann. It isnt Moulin Rouge and certainly isn't Romeo and Juliet, instead it's (at least to me) an epic, dramatic story of love set against a visually stunning backdrop with a surprisingly strong performance from Kidman and a refreshing change of pace performance from Jackman. That's quite a mouthful and fitting because this movie is quite a mouthful, actually a stomach full that I'm sure will take me a couple days to fully digest…and it's GREAT!!

Even though this isn't necessarily a special effects kind of movie, some of them (especially the war scenes in the second half) are important because they convey the scope and scale of the story. Makes it feel bigger than just a love story between the rugged, outdoorsy, horseman and the sophisticated city lady.

I found the aboriginal kid (who facilitates the thawing of Kidman's character through latching on to her as a mother figure) very genuine and believable, in fact that could be said of the whole cast. I really got into the story.

One side note …Lurhman, Kidman, and Jackman are all Aussie natives and because of that I had the sense that this film meant a little more to them than their standard work. I think this is especially true of Kidman who (fairly or not) has been criticized for coming off as an emotionless automaton or just bad in her recent films. Granted there is a nice symmetry between the chillier aspect of her personality and her character in the early parts of this film, but what separates this from other things I've seen her in is that this character's turn or evolution away from the cold British aristocrat is incredibly believable and arguably her best work. Jackman is fantastic as a brawler cowboy with a bad attitude, the cattle drive and bombing scenes are really well done, and I laughed out loud a couple times when Jackman/Kidman first meet and he takes great pleasure in messing with the city priss. It's a complete film and real cinematic experience, and one of the best times I've had at the movies since I can remember.

"The Dark Knight" sequel set to begin pre-production in February!

....the 2-disc DVD art will feature alternate art under its cardboard sleeve -- it seems the Joker savaged each and every one of them with markers and crayons (see gallery below).

There's also a third edition the really hardcore among you will be standing in line for, and that's the limited edition pictured above. It doesn't come with additional features, but is secured in a steel DVD case and accompanied by a replica Batpod. As it's not actually big enough to ride or pivot on walls, it's useless to me. But it's ideal for those of you with lots of desk space!

In related news: The brand new edition of Production Weekly lists Batman 3 as going into pre-production this February, with Christopher Nolan directing. PW is a pretty reliable trade source, though it's odd to see news like that hit there before arriving in, say, Variety. As always, more info when it develops ...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

7 minute clip from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" remake

20 minutes of "Watchmen" footage screened for reporters

It's one of the most widely read and critically acclaimed graphic novels in history. And now after two decades of wrangling, Watchmen is coming to the big screen from director Zack Snyder, who adapted Frank Miller's bloody 300 into a box-office smash. But for fans of the book who have read the dark and complex book over and over -- and I include myself in that category -- the job of condensing the sprawling epic into a two-hour movie seemed to be impossible.

I was invited on Wednesday to a screening of over twenty minutes of footage from "Watchmen," and I have to say that it looks like Snyder has done the impossible. The scenes had some unfinished visual effects and temporary music, but already I was able to get a sense of the energy and uncompromising dedication to the original text that Snyder is bringing to the film.

We were first shown the opening twelve minutes of the movie, which begins with the attack on the Comedian (Jeffery Dean Morgan). In the comics, this scene is only ever presented in flashbacks, but here it is a brutal fistfight that leads up to a breathtaking shot following the Comedian as he's tossed out the window of his high-rise. The action here is reminiscent of the slow-to-fast motion of the fight scenes in "300," but the setting feels more tangible, since it was shot on sets and not entirely in front of green screens.

This leads into the opening credits sequence that retells the history of the book's alternate universe from the '30s through the '70s, set to Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'." Avid fans will spot countless references to images and events from the book, but newcomers will quickly get a sense of the world where superheroes not only exist but directly impact major historical events.

We saw two more scenes from later in the film. First they showed the origin of Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), a physicist transformed in an accident into a blue-skinned superman who manipulates matter with a wave of his hand. Then we saw the prison break scene where costumed heroes Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre (Malin Ackerman) bust out their comrade Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley). It's obvious from the footage we saw that the filmmakers are delivering an R-rated, adult movie that is not going to soften the novel's violent, sexual, or political content.

I asked Snyder after the screening what reactions he has received from people who haven't read the book. He said he has shown the film to people who don't know the novel and they have been able to follow the story and get a feel for the movie's twisted reality. He also said that for the first time as a filmmaker he wishes he could forget his whole history with the project and watch the movie with fresh eyes.

Snyder said that currently the film's running time is at two hours and forty-five minutes, but a later DVD edition will expand it with the addition of an animated story-within-the-story.