When you look at all the mundane things that are getting turned into movies these days, you really have to wonder if there is anything that's just too silly for Hollywood.
After all, we'll soon be getting not only a Facebook movie (which should actually be great), but also after that a Google movie. And board games? There are at least six board games currently being turned into movies: Battleship, Clue (again), Monopoly, Candyland, Ouija and Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. And yes, really.
So, if you can make a movie from Battleship (that will somehow star Rihanna), where's the limit? If you'll allow me to be extremely silly myself for a bit, here are some "ideas" you might have to watch out for if this madness continues unchecked, all based on things found in my house and just about everyone else's too:
The shower curtain: No, not a horror movie. How about, instead, wish fulfillment? Step behind the curtain and, for one day, you can be whatever your mind imagines, with, of course, lots of unintended consequences.
The recipe box: Why not a Nicholas Sparks-style romance? A common quest for that one exotic, elusive ingredient leads two young cooks into each other's kitchens and ... wait, I think I might have actually seen this one before, but has that ever stopped movie makers?
The clarinet: OK, this one will be a horror movie. A teen dude who was never very good at playing the clarinet takes his revenge by making anyone who crosses his path listen to him try to play it (perhaps I'm the only person who could relate to that, though.)
The bedside table lamp: This lamp doesn't just light up a room. In the right hands, it becomes a weapon that will wipe out the impending darkness that is about to consume the planet. This one will, inevitably, star Jackie Chan in some way.
The rocking chair: Anyone who sits in this magical chair with another person in the room will immediately have the irresistible urge to tell a story, no matter how embarrassing it might be. I think I'll go ahead and forward that one to M. Night Shymalan, because even that's miles better than anything he's come up with lately.
The bookshelf: We've all wanted to become our favorite literary character for at least a little while. This bookshelf would give you that power once you complete one of its books. Looking at my shelf, I think I'd choose Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, and then just wreak all kinds of havoc for a spell.
The crockpot: This nation could probably use a "can't we all just get along" flick a la "Crash" right about now (though I hated that movie.) What better to symbolize a healing process than the crockpot, which, no matter what you throw into it, somehow always manages to mix it into something edible. I have no idea where to go from there, but remember, I'm just the "idea" guy here, people.
The fireplace: A "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" kind of escape movie, but this time, when you crawl through the fireplace, you end up in a mystical land where you're given the elemental power of fire in a battle of the four elements. Sort of like "The Last Airbender," but done right (sorry, M. Night, but you're such an easy target.)
The love seat: Actually, this is still linked from a family-friendly newspaper, so we won't go there, but you certainly get the idea by now.
And just in case you think all these ideas are as bad as they admittedly are, just remember, they really are making a movie about Battleship.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
When you look at all the mundane things that are getting turned into movies these days, you really have to wonder if there is anything that's just too silly for Hollywood.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
If you were to hang a day on only bit of news, as I'm doing today because I'm soon off to watch the Braves probably lose to the Marlins with my old friend D-Eye, at least it's as cool as this.
Rumors had been swirling for a long time that James McTeigue was eyeing a project called "The Raven," a tale of Poe tracking a serial killer, inspired by his own stories, during the last days of his own life.
Being obsessed as I am with all things about Charm City, that was nothing but good news, and it's just getting better as filming is set to start this fall. Since he broke the news on his twitter feed, atrocious spelling and all, I'll let John Cusack himself do the honors:
officiali- will play edgar allen poe in fall-a-film called the raven, send any poe- gold - my way as i begin this journey into the abyss
I'm going to assume the man knows how to spell official and was actually just typing too fast, but either way, this should be sensational. I almost always like Cusack, but I can't think of the last movie he was in that I even bothered to go see, much less enjoyed (a quick check at the IMDB reveals it's "High Fidelity" - almost 10 years ago! - since I somehow managed to avoid both "Hot Tub Time Machine" and "2012").
And as for McTeigue, he's made one movie I truly love with "V for Vendetta" and one I endured with "Ninja Assassin." Yes, I really did go see the latter, but it was only because one of my sicker co-workers, Sharon, really wanted to. We walked in about two minutes late and a man was already getting samurai sawed in half - one of the tamer stunts in that bloodbath. My bet, though, is that "Poe" will be a lot more like "V for Vendetta," so I can definitely say bring it on. Stay tuned ...
After that, all I have today is one clip, but if you like Bruce Springsteen (and who doesn't?), it's a great one. Courtesy of Vimeo, it's a 3-minute-or-so sneak peek of the documentary "The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town'." That title pretty much tells you exactly what you're getting here, and the movie is set to come to HBO this October (to divert for a second, I finally managed to record Spike Lee's Katrina followup, "If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise." Not exactly cheery weekend viewing, but I can't wait to see it, probably not in one sitting, since it's FOUR HOURS long.)
But back to the matter at hand, coming after the movie in November will be a 3 CD set (I think) titled "The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story," which will feature 21 previously unreleased Boss tracks from the "Darkness" recording sessions (plus, I'd have to assume, the original album too.) Epic goodness there. For now, enjoy the clip, and have a great rest of the weekend. Peace out.
Friday, August 27, 2010
From my initial perspective, I'd have to say no, but let's at least look at what you're getting if you do spring for another ride with James Cameron's giant blue horse cats.
The big selling point in trying to nab more of your 3D premium dollars is that there are nine additional minutes (really? sheesh .. wasn't the movie long enough the first time around?) But let's be fair and let the man make his case. Here's what Cameron had to say about it to EW:
"There's a big rousing sequence where they're hunting these herd animals called sturmbeests. There's another new creature that you haven't seen before called the stingbat. There's a really powerful emotional scene toward the end of the film where the leader of the Na'vi is dying after a battle. There's a bit more in the love scene with Jake and Neytiri. There's more bioluminescent stuff in the night forest. Little bits and pieces here and there."
OK, fair enough. The creatures in "Avatar" were uniformly pretty cool (even the horse cats), but I still can't say that's enough to sucker me in again.
It's not that I didn't enjoy "Avatar." In fact, I've seen it twice now, and liked it more the second time around, but after that I really didn't feel I need to visit Pandora again any time soon. The movie itself is really just an old-fashioned, '80s-style sci-fi/action movie with lost of high-tech sheen, and viewed that way, it's a nearly perfectly entertaining bit of fluff.
Oh yeah, I probably should have lead with the fact that, starting Friday, "Avatar" indeed returns to 811 3D theaters, somehow including what's apparently soon to be the only movie theater in Macon (sad but true).
Something you can count me as amped for is the return of "Chuck," which will happen a lot earlier this season, 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, to be precise (which I have to assume means it will be something approaching a full 22-episode season ... huzzah.)
What we (or at least I) know about the new season is all good so far, starting with the fact that Linda Hamilton will play Chuck's mysterious mom. Even if, like me, Linda Hamilton didn't grow up in Salisbury, Md., I'd still see that casting as nothing but cool (and by the way, Alexis Denisof, a.k.a Wesley from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel," is from Salisbury too ... it's a sci-fi mini-mecca!)
In the latest bit of news about "Chuck," Timothy Dalton, perhaps best known as the only person to play James Bond in fewer movies (two, "License to Kill" and "The Living Daylights) than George Lazenby (one, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"), will be joining the show for a multi-episode arc this fall (to belabor the Bond thing a bit more, I suppose Daniel Craig's only played him twice too, but I'd imagine he'll get the chance again sometime.)
All that's known so far is that Dalton will be playing "a mysterious stranger who has history with Chuck's mom." Not much to go on, I know, but the return of "Chuck," along with the FX shows "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "Sons of Anarchy," are the shows you can count me as most psyched to see again (with Martin Scorsese's "Boardwalk Empire," coming Sept. 19 to HBO, easily the new show I most want to see.)
And all I have after that today is a couple of clips, starting with the first U.S. trailer for Stephen Frears' "Tamara Drewe," starring the not-exactly-hard-on-the-eyes Gemma Arterton as, best as I can tell, some kind of literary muse for a community of English writers. There seems to be more than a little Woody Allen-style stuff going on here, which done right certainly can't be a bad thing. Enjoy the trailer, and keep an eye out for this one starting Oct. 8 in at least America's bigger cities. Enjoy.
And finally today, I know I've been talking about "The American" quite a bit, but I'm convinced that Anton Corbijn's hit man movie starring George Clooney is going to be seriously good. Besides, I somehow only have a three-day work week next week, which means "The American" on Thursday, "Machete" on Friday and maybe even "Going the Distance" some time during the weekend too. A busy movie week, just as I like it. Enjoy this series of four clips from "The American" (the first of which I've posted here before) courtesy of collider.com, and have a perfectly pleasant weekend. Peace out.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Sometimes clips need an introduction, and sometimes they really don't, so I'll just say perhaps Edgar Wright's flick (but probably not) and almost certainly M. Night Shymalan's would have been better if they had just mashed things up as this clip does so brilliantly. Enjoy.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Danny Boyle's "127 Hours," coming Nov. 5, is certain to be one of the more difficult films to watch this fall, but I'm betting on one of the best too.
The story of climber Aron Ralston, to be played by Freak James Franco, will certainly be a claustrophobic one once he gets trapped. If you're unfamiliar with the story, it's the true saga of mountain climber Ralston, who got trapped for the titular "127 Hours" in a Utah canyon and, well, had to go to extreme measures to get out.
What's great about this first teaser trailer is it starts with all the style and optimism of Boyle's best flicks and then just smacks you with what it's really about at the very end (and it looks great full screen.) Enjoy.
OK, it's TV from here on out today, and I probably should have started with this one, because it's just going to be an awesome epic dose of awesomeness, to exaggerate just a little.
Once you watch this clip, and if you like zombie movies (and who in the world doesn't?), however, I think you'll agree it's not exaggerating by much at all. AMC announced yesterday that Frank Darabont's "The Walking Dead," based on the comic by Robert Kirkman, will make its debut appropriately enough on Halloween and have, initially at least, a six episode run.
You know, of course, from the title alone what this is all about, and the trailer certainly doesn't disappoint. It lures you in with a slow beginning before the mayhem really begins just up the road from me in Atlanta, where the zombie apocalypse will certainly begin when it really does happen. Enjoy.
And finally today, anyone who's been here before knows I'm a rather avid fan of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, especially when they're simply out to be extremely funny. If you've ever watched HBO's "The Ricky Gervais Show" or listened to any of their podcasts, you know there's a third wheel when they're at their best, one Karl Pilkington. Though presented (and mocked and bullied) by Gervais as an idiot, Pilkington is also, in his own way, a bit of a comic genius, and now he's gotten his own series.
To be broadcast on the UK's Sky1, it's called "An Idiot Abroad," and springs from Pilkington's observation on a podcast that, if I remember this right, the Seven Wonders of the World are "a bit crap" (though he himself has never left England to actually find out.) Well, Gervais and Merchant of course jump all over that and send Pilkington around the globe, and as you'll see from the trailer below, the results are predictably silly. Enjoy the trailer, keep an eye out for this and let me know when it appears on this side of the pond, and have a perfectly passable Wednesday. Peace out.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
And I even kind of liked it too. Far from anything approaching high or even low art, Alexandre Aja's movie is what so many others just claim to be: A genuine B movie, chock full of gore, nudity and, best of all, humor.
It's no surprise to me, then, that the movie not only did fairly well at the box office ($10 million in week one), but also that Dimension has already announced a follow-up. In spite of its many excesses (just as a word of warning, I'm certain I didn't have to see a robotic piranha belch up a severed penis - yes, it's often that silly and gross, too), it's a really fun ride, and I'm almost certain I'll climb on board again, especially since the ending leaves open the possibility of something really wild (I won't spoil it for you.)
I have, however, and probably shouldn't admit this, committed my first bit of thievery since I was 8 years old or so. Instead of "recycling" the 3D glasses this time, I just kept them, and plan to, the next time I give in and watch a movie in 3D, simply buy a ticket for a 2D release showing at nearly the same time, then just slip in to the 3D movie. Juvenile and crooked? Sure, but charging a $3.50 or so surcharge for each 3D movie is at least as criminal, and I'd argue much more so.
But enough about my latest petty scheme, since there's some other actual good movie news out there this week, starting with easily one of my favorite directors, the Japanese animation giant Hayao Miyazaki, who, thankfully, doesn't seem ready to slow down any time soon.
In an interview with the Japanese magazine Cut, thankfully translated by the Miyazaki-obsessed portal Nausicaa.net, he hinted that though he doesn't have any directing options in the immediate future, he does plan to hopefully produce a sequel of sorts to one of my favorite of his flicks, "Porco Rosso."
If you haven't seen that magical movie about a fighter pilot who's cursed to live his life as a pig (yes, really), it really is a delight, and here's some of what Miyazaki had to say about a sequel:
"So I want to escape to "Porco Rosso: The Last Sortie". I have all its materials."
"It should be interesting."
"It is set for Spanish Civil War."
"If next two films succeed and [studio president Toshio] Suzuki-san lets me make it (Porco) while saying, 'It cannot be helped because it's a hobby of the old man', I'm happy. It's my hobby."
The most beautiful animated movies around simply the "hobby of an old man"? You gotta love that, and a "Porco Rosso" sequel set in the Spanish Civil War? Sounds like its not yet a done deal, but I can only say bring it on.
And finally today, does anyone remember the original "Spy Kids" movie? Though Robert Rodriguez's movies lost more and more of the fun in its sequels, the first movie (starring Reel Fanatic fave Carla Gugino, among others) was a perfect little bit of escapist entertainment.
Well, Rodriguez, never one to tire of an idea quickly, has now decided to launch a reboot of sorts of the "Spy Kids" franchise, this time with Jessica Alba sort of in the role started by Gugino.
This time out, Alba will play a retired spy who has been reactivated. Her character is the mother of a baby and two preteen stepchildren. This will, of course, mean casting new "Spy Kids," since the originals, Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara, are surely too old by now. The only other thing that's known so far is that the villain is known as the Time Keeper, whose goal it is to stop time.
That last bit, at least, gives me hope that this will return the series to its roots, which would be a fun turn. And Alba, of course, stars in Rodriguez's "Machete," which will cut a bloody swath through theaters beginning Sept. 3.
It's just about time for me to go to the job that still pays my bills, but I'll leave you with a clip from another movie opening that week, Anton Corbijn's "The American," starring one George Clooney. With its retro look and feel, the tale of a hitman trying to retire is one I'm certainly excited to see. Enjoy the clip, and have a perfectly passable Tuesday. Peace out.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Actually, I probably shouldn't spoil it, but they all are, which doesn't make them any less bizarre.
1. Anyone who's been here before (and there are apparently somehow a few of you) knows that I'll watch Carla Gugino in just about anything. And even though I enjoyed watching her play a porn star who dresses like a nun in "Women in Trouble," even I wouldn't have guessed that one of her next movies would be called "MILF."
Really? Yes, really, but no matter what you might be thinking that means (keep it clean, people), the acronym here stands for "Mothers I'd Like to Fight", and the movie, which Gugino is apparently in talks to star in, would be a revenge story about a woman who, recently released from prison, returns to the street to take care of some unfinished business.
And yes, cheap, attention-grabbing acronym aside, I'd watch that, though I'd probably buy a ticket from the machine rather than have to actually ask for one to something called "MILF." Just sayin'.
2. Anyone who's been here before also knows that David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin's "The Social Network," about the invention of Facebook, is one of the movies I'm most psyched to see this fall. That said, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that in Hollywood, imitation is the most frequent substitution for inspiration, but I just really didn't think it would come quite so quickly.
Apparently at least some people who saw those YouTube and Twitter movie spoofs (I posted one here, and they're actually quite funny) didn't realize that they were meant to be a joke, because brace yourself now for the Google movie (and again, yes, really.)
According to Deadline, Ken Auletta's bestseller "Googled: The End of the World as We Know It" is being made into a feature film. The book tells "the biographical story of Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the famously private founders of Google, and their meteoric rise to becoming two of the most powerful men on the planet."
OK, that does make it sound like it could actually be pretty good, but could this please be the end of movies about computer breakthroughs (one can dream, I suppose, but since Peter Berg is actually making a movie from the game Battleship, I know it's futile.)
3. When a sentence starts with "Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy have signed up to star in a romantic comedy ...", it would probably just make me say meh, except for the sentence ends "... about the invention of the first vibrator."
Per Variety: "The period drama, titled Hysteria, centres on two doctors in Victorian London who experiment with an electrical device to treat irritable and angry women. Dancy and Jonathan Pryce will play the physicians."
That actually sounds pretty funny to me already, and just in case you were wondering if Gyllenhaal might play one of the test subjects, again, keep it clean - she's actually set to play the daughter of Pryce's character, assuming this ever gets made.
OK, enough of that. All I have left today is a picture that immediately caught my eye and Lewis Black's "review" of "Eat, Pray, Love."
First the picture. If Martin Scorsese weren't filming "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" in 3D, you could call it probably the movie I'm most psyched about for next year (actually, since it's based on a book I truly adore, it still is, but why the 3D? Sheesh.)
And even though Scorses has apparently also shortened the title from Brian Selznick's novel down to simply "Hugo Cabret," the story is still a real charmer. The book is about an orphan who lives a secret life in the wall of a Paris train station, where he gets drawn into the magical world of George Melies and his automatons. There's a lot more going on in the book, and it's all a lot of fun.
As you'll see from the first picture below, Asa Butterfield plays the titular Hugo, and Chloe Moretz is his young co-star, and if the sight of Hit Girl in period costume doesn't make you smile at least a bit, well, you probably don't smile enough. Enjoy.
And finally today, in a clip that I'd have to say is just about perfect for a Friday morning, here's Lewis Black's seriously funny "review" of "Eat Pray Love" from "The Daily Show." Black, who screams way too much for my taste, isn't always my kind of funny, but I guarantee that by the time he gets around to his "Eat, Pray, Love machete," you'll be laughing at this. Enjoy, and have a perfectly pleasant weekend. Peace out.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Back in Black - Eat Pray Love|
Thursday, August 19, 2010
In case you somehow haven't seen it, that really is Maggie Gyllenhaal in the trailer for "Nanny McPhee Returns." Just plain odd. And though I have no obligation to go see that flick and so won't, I certainly would go see her in the project she's been talking up while making the press rounds for the "Nanny McPhee" sequel.
It was announced a while back that hubby Peter Sarsgaard would be playing bluegrass legend Bill Monroe in a biopic, and while that's enough to catch my eye, it gets infinitely more interesting when she's joining him in the flick. Here's what Gyllenhaal had to say about the project.
“Bill Monroe, who invented bluegrass music had a kind of Sid and Nancy style affair with this woman Bessie Lee Mauldin throughout his life and T-Bone Burnett’s going to do the music and Callie Khouri — who wrote Thelma & Louise — wrote the script so we’re going to do that together.”
Sounds like nothing but cool there, especially with Burnett doing the music (on a completely tangential note, those adorable little Peasall sisters from "O Brother Where Art Thou," no longer so little and probably no longer too fond of being called "adorable," are coming to play at a Macon church next week - yeah, I'm gonna check that out.) No idea when this will all come together, but it's certainly something worth keeping an eye on.
And in other news about an actor I really like, I've always wondered why Hollywood can't seem to find good roles for Stringer Bell, aka Idris Elba (Tyler Perry being the exception - that "Daddy's Little Girls" starring Elba is still his best flick, and if you've never seen a Tyler Perry movie, a great introductory rental.) Otherwise, it seems like he most often gets cast as some kind of bank robber in generic heist flicks (in fact, there's another one coming very soon, "Takers.") Racism? Who knows, but this guy is a seriously good actor, so there's got to be more out there for him to do, right?
Well, according to Deadline, he's finally getting a role that sounds meaty enough to work with, following in the footsteps of Morgan Freeman as Dr. Alex Cross, from the series of novels by James Patterson. Freeman played the character in two crime thrillers, "Along Came a Spider" and "Kiss the Girls" that, while by no means being great movies, were still pretty far from awful.
In "Cross," based on Patterson's 12th novel in the series, Dr. Cross has left the FBI and now works for a private practice, consulting to stop a serial killer called The Butcher who may be connected to the murder of Cross' wife. Juicy stuff that, and this will be directed by David Twohy, who made "Pitch Black" and the much less enjoyable "Chronicles of Riddick" movie, among others. I have no idea, of course, if anything good will come from this, but it's just nice to see Stringer finally getting some respect. 'Nuff said on that.
OK, all I have after that today is a trio of clips, starting with the first trailer I know of for director Doug Liman's "Fair Game," which if you scroll back a couple of days will see managed to make my top 10 for fall list. Judging from the clip below, this seems to lack the claustrophobic feel that made the true spy tale "Breach" so engaging (I think I just might be the only person in the world that loves that Billy Ray movie), but the story of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame, starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, should still be a winner when it comes out in November. Enjoy.
While on vacation in Philly with mi hermano, we of course went to a lot of movies, and it seems like the trailer for Mesrine appeared before each one. The French gangster saga of Jacques Mesrine, played by Vincent Cassel, instantly rose to near the top of the flicks I'd go see on opening day if I lived in New York or L.A., but I had no idea that it's actually two movies.
Mesrine, from what I can gather, was one seriously bad dude, robbing, kidnapping and murdering his way across several continents, and breaking out of several prisons along the way before his death in 1979. He was helped along the way a la Bonnie and Clyde by Jeanne Schneider, to be played in the movies by Cecile de France.
The first chapter, "Mesrine: Killer Instinct," is set to hit at least some theaters Sept. 27, to be followed the next Friday by part two, "Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1." From what I've read, these are very violent flicks that are made worth watching by Cassel's intense performance. "Enjoy" the clip from chapter one, but be warned that it's a violent one, and if you speak French or can read English subtitles, a profane one too, so be careful watching it at work.
Now, where better to end up today than with the trailer for "Wu-Tang Revealed," the movie about the rap collective directed by the GZA himself. Though I have serious doubts this will ever play in a theater anywhere near me, I'll definitely check it out on DVD, because it looks to be a whole lot more "behind the music" than anything that's ever appeared on VH1. Be warned, of course, that they throw around the N-word and all kinds of other profanities often enough to make even Dr. Laura blush, but there's just something serenely entertaining about watching the Wu-Tang crew bicker in a pristine kitchen with pink flowers on the table. Enjoy, and have a perfectly pleasant Thursday. Peace out.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I suppose there have to be more important injustices to battle in the world than what happened to one movie, but the treatment of Ricky Gervais' "Cemetery Junction" has been particularly appalling.
Never heard of it? None too surprising, I suppose. If someone told you this was a tale about young insurance salesman in England in the 1970s written by Gervais and partner in comedy Stephen Merchant (co-creators of both "The Office" and "Extras"), you'd probably want to see it, right? Well, I certainly would, and you'd think that unless this were somehow just utterly awful (which I find really hard to believe, though I'll surely find out soon), it would at least get a limited U.S. release, right?
Nope. This somehow went straight to DVD in this country, and the only good news in all of this is that it has finally come out this week. I've added it to my Netflix at the top of the queue, but it's threatening me with a "short wait," so I may try to redbox it instead. However you get your DVD fix, surely give this one a try.
And speaking of Gervais and Merchant, they're developing a series for BBC2 with legendary littleman Warwick Davis called "Life's Too Short." It's apparently about Davis' daily life, but Gervais and Merchant star in it somehow too, so keep an eye out for it on this side of the pond (and if you see it, surely let me know when and where.)
OK, after that, all I have today is a cache of clips which, I promise, just get odder as you go along. First up comes the first trailer I know of for Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan," which surely would have made the fall preview I penned yesterday except, in my mind at least, in movie terms December is winter. Anyways, as you'll see, it's gonna be a really weird but hopefully also wonderful flick. Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis star as rival ballerinas who, as best as I can tell, get consumed by their competition and one particular role. It looks more than a little too "Single White Female"-ish to me, but surely Aronofsky has a lot more going on than that. Enjoy. (P.S.: There is, unfortunately, an ad that runs before this, but I promise that a) I don't make any money off it and b) if you sit through that, this particular clip looks great full screen.)
Next up, and thanks to a heads up from Amy Frazier Maclean, a good friend of mine from my UGA days and still one of my favorite people in the world, here's the first trailer for Casey Affleck's documentary about buddy Joaquin Phoenix. As I'm sure everyone remembers, Phoenix had some kind of meltdown a few years ago and (for real? who knows?) became some kind of rapper who looks like a Hasidic Jew. It all smacked of little more than a stunt, but as far as filmmaking goes, stunts often work well as none-too-long (here's hoping, at least) docu- (or mocku-) mentaries. Enjoy the clip, and if you live in a big American city, keep an eye out for the flick Sept. 10.
OK, I did warn that things would just get weirder, right? One of my many tasks at work is picking out the movie reviews that run in our weekly entertainment tab, and it's becoming increasingly hard to find reviews written by Tuesday afternoon, when we really have to put the thing together. For example, this week, there are a rather amazing six movies opening in Macon this week (including, yes, really, some kind of Christian movie called "What If" starring Hercules himself, Kevin Sorbo), but I could only find a review for one, Christy LeMire of the AP's cruel dissection of "The Switch." I digress with all that to tell you this: Of all the movies opening this week, the one I was most certain we wouldn't get a review of was "Piranha 3D" (well, that and "Vampires Suck," too, actually.) And besides, why submit to critics when you can just make your own pitch for not only plaudits, but a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars? I'm certain I won't go see the movie, but this Funny or Die clip featuring stars Adam Scott, Jerry O'Connell and others is certainly made in the right spirit. Enjoy.
And finally, saving the oddest for last, Zhang Yimou really has made a Chinese remake of the Coen brothers' "Blood Simple" (just let that sink in for a second.) It's described as a broad comedy, and below is the first Western trailer. Called "A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop" (I'm laughing at that already), it's set for a limited U.S. release in September, and yes, I think that, given the chance, I certainly would go see this. Enjoy the trailer and have a perfectly harmless Wednesday. Peace out.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Since it's still hot as, well, August outside, what better time than now to look ahead to a time when the weather is cooler and the movies are reliably better, fall.
And just to clarify, on my movie calendar, fall starts in September and ends in November, no matter what the calender says. That said, here are 10 movies I'm definitely psyched to see this fall.
9/1: "The American": George Clooney stars as a hitman who's given one final, inevitably complicated, assignment to complete in Italy in this sure-to-be-cool thriller from director Anton Corbijn, who made the Ian Curtis biopic "Control."
9/3: "Machete": Whether or not Robert Rodriguez's revenge pic starring Danny Trejo (developed from the fake trailer of the same name that appeared in between the two halves of "Grindhouse") is any good, with a cast that also somehow includes Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Don Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Seagal and even Lindsay Lohan, it should be anything but boring. Enjoy the latest trailer.
9:15: Never Let Me Go: Here's one case where I'm definitely glad I haven't read the book first, because Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, which has been made into a movie starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield, is about students at a boarding school with a mysterious secret, and I don't want to already know what that is going in.
9/17: Easy A: I'm surely too old for teenie adaptations of classic works, but this take on Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" just looks extremely clever, and star Emma Stone is a natural comedienne. Enjoy the trailer below.
9/17: "The Town": Ben Affleck's directing followup to "Gone Baby Gone" features a stellar cast - including Jeremy Ritter, Reel Fanatic fave Rebecca Hall and Don Draper - in a Chuck Hogan novel about bank robbers in Boston and the FBI man who's out to get them.
9/24: "It's Kind of a Funny Story": Co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who made last year's seriously satisfying baseball/immigration drama "Sugar," return this time with the story of a teenager who checks himself into a mental institution and ends up getting housed in the adult area, where he meets Zach Galifianakis and all kinds of other colorful characters. The one movie I'm most looking forward to seeing this fall. Enjoy the trailer below.
10/1: "Social Network": The creation of Facebook may not exactly sound like a riveting story of American ingenuity, but I'm betting that in the hands of director David Fincher and with a script from "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin, this flick starring Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake will be a real winner.
10/1: "Freakanomics": If too many cooks don't spoil the soup, this documentary based on the best-selling book about the often bizarre rules of causality from six directors - Heidi Ewing, Alex Gibney, Seth Gordon, Rachel Grady, Eugene Jarecki and Morgan Spurlock - should be a surprise hit this fall.
11/5: "Fair Game": Spy games are always best when they're based on a true story, so even if it's clearly old news by now, you can count me in for director Doug Liman's take on the story of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts), with her husband being played by Sean Penn.
11/5: "127 Hours": Director Danny Boyle kind of snuck up on Oscar voters to take the top prize with "Slumdog Millionaire," and I think he just might do it again with the story of mountain climber Aron Ralston, played by James Franco, who survived the titular 127 hours trapped under a boulder in a Utah canyon.
So there you have it. Please feel free to let me know of any I've snubbed (and remember that there will be some great ones in December, but that's not on this list) or any you're really amped to see this fall, and have a perfectly passable Tuesday. Peace out.
Friday, August 13, 2010
OK, David Fincher's "The Social Network," about the invention of Facebook and set to come out Oct. 1, is certainly one of the five or so movies I'm most looking forward to this fall.
After all, I love movies about American ingenuity (and have a probably way-too-lofty spot in my heart for Francis Ford Coppola's "Tucker"), and with a script by Aaron Sorkin you're pretty much guaranteed it will be whipsmart. And the trailers so far have been pretty universally brilliant, especially the clip featuring that piano-based cover of Radiohead's "Creep."
Now, having said all that, why not make fun of it? After all, what exactly was invented here anyway? Though I'm on it and check it fairly often, Facebook certainly has its mockable features (can anyone explain to me exactly what "Farmville" is?), and the clip below jumps all over it with a faux trailer for "Twitter: The Movie." It's funnier than any more words from me could make it, so enjoy the clip and then the original trailer it so sharply skewers, and if you're so inclined, stick around for the trailer for what should be a first-rate documentary. Enjoy.
I have to admit that I've never read "Freakonomics," the bestseller by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, but I've read selected chapters, and it does have some interesting things to say about causality. I particularly enjoyed the chapter about corruption in sumo wrestling (certainly a burning issue for our times), and the segment on abortion and crime rate is as enlightening as it is simply disturbing. So, you can certainly put the six-segment documentary based on it, which will feature those two chapters, on my fall list too. It's a collaborative effort from directors Heidi Ewing, Alex Gibney, Seth Gordon, Rachel Grady, Eugene Jarecki and Morgan Spurlock, and here is the first trailer I know of. Enjoy, have a great weekend, and certainly go see "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World." Peace out.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
When he's not busy starring in movies that I almost always enjoy watching, Joseph Gordon-Levitt apparently devotes much of his time to a creative social collective of sorts, hitRECord, and among other things it has produced the two charming short films embedded below.
At the site, well worth checking out even if you have nothing to contribute to it, members pool their talents to create musical and video projects, and as you'll see from these two movies, they're a pretty talented bunch.
Both were directed and star Gordon-Levitt, with Lexy Hulme as his co-star. First up comes "Morgan M. Morgansen's Date With Destiny," which made its debut at Sundance this year, and then the slightly longer and much better sequel of sorts, "Morgan and Destiny's Eleventeeth Date: The Zeppelin Zoo," which features Channing Tatum and debuted this year at SXSW.
What they share is wild wordplay; odd, old-timey animation vaguely reminiscent of the Monty Python crew's work; and just about as much charm as you can pack into 12 minutes or so of footage (and note, if you want to watch them full frame, they look splendid enlarged.) Enjoy the movies, and if you want to learn more about hitRECord, stick around for the third video, an introduction to the site from Mr. Gordon-Levitt. And with that, I have to get ready for the job that still helps me pay the bills. Peace out.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Complaining about the influence of video games on movies makes me feel more than a little like the old guy yelling, "Hey you kids, get off my lawn." And besides, this summer at least, I'm not all that sure it's a bad thing.
Now, to be clear, I'm certainly not talking about movies based directly on video games - I can't think of the last one of those that was any good. In fact, movies "based" on another medium, particularly '80s TV shows, generally raise a red flag for me (with this summer's "The A-Team" being a welcome exception ... what a big blast of fun.)
Instead, I mean movies that take on the feel of playing - or even better, somehow being in - a video game, with this summer's best example so far being Christopher Nolan's "Inception." Until being knocked from the No. 1 perch last week by the seriously funny and well worth seeing "The Other Guys," Nolan's flick rode a long winning streak to already more than $227 million at the domestic box office in spite - or perhaps because, your choice - of a plot that, like the best of video games. presents a puzzle with level after level of challenges for viewers.
And if all Nolan's tricks don't quite add up in your mind, you're far from alone. It took me two viewings to accept that even if everything he's cooked up doesn't add up perfectly (and I'm fairly certain it was never designed to), it's still pretty much a masterwork both visually and in terms of storytelling.
In an interview with the L.A. Times, Henry Jenkins, a professor of communications, journalism and cinematic arts at the University of Southern California, explained the game influence of "Inception" perfectly: " 'Inception' is first and foremost a movie about worlds and levels, which is very much the way video games are structured. Games create a sense that we're a part of the action. Stories aren't just told to us. We experience them."
Just how much more of an appetite is there for this interactive kind of filmmaking? That gets a major test this weekend with the release of "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World," which packs the double geek bona fide of not only looking just like a really good video game but also being based on a fairly obscure series of graphic novels (and yes, though I'm well aware I should really be too old for "comic books," I have read the first two installments of this, and it has a visual and verbal wit that should be just right in Edgar Wright's flick.)
Like "Inception," the tale of Scott Pilgrim is indeed also a quest with many levels, in this case battles with "seven evil exes" to win the heart of Ramona Flowers. Even with a love story of sorts at its core, I'll be curious to see how "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World" fares in a busy week that also contains all the action you can stand (and probably much more) with "The Expendables" and Julia Roberts starring in a more conventional romantic saga directed by "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy, "Eat, Pray, Love."
As for the overall trend of interactive movies, brace yourself for more, because it's not going away any time soon (there's even, of course, a sequel of sorts to "Tron," "Tron: Legacy," coming in time for Christmas.) And as for me, well, as long as the ride continues to be thrilling, I'll just be enjoying it while it lasts.
Friday, August 06, 2010
Actually, with "The Other Guys" opening today and getting generally very good reviews, let's start with easily the craziest news I could find this morning, and it's about director Adam McKay.
In what would have to be a pretty big reach for the Gary Sanchez production company he runs with Will Ferrell, it seems that McKay has hired screenwriter Jesse Armstrong, co-writer of the sublime satire "In the Loop" (rent that immediately if you somehow haven't seen it), to pen the script for a biopic of Lee Atwater. And if you like political film at all, you know how potentially good this news is.
And just in case you've forgotten about Atwater, he was a prominent GOP strategist who, while he didn't quite engineer the rise of Republicans in the South, certainly channeled their power for George H.W. Bush and others to take advantage of (and, by the way, created that "Willie Horton" ad - remember him?) Far from my favorite dude in history, but certainly a colorful character, and Armstrong should have plenty to work with in all the dirty tricks he pulled in a successful career in politics. Stay tuned.
OK, after that today, it's indeed all about clips, and I've got four or - depending on the time - five that caught my eye this morning, starting of course with "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World." Though surely a gimmick, this interactive trailer that lets you click anywhere in it while it's running to get little nuggets of info about the flick is also extremely addictive as a time-waster. Enjoy, and certainly go see the flick when it opens next week.
Next up, if you have to make movies in 3-D, what more noble use could there be than to shoot a dude being catapulted high into the air in an outhouse? That's right, the "Jackass" boys are back on Oct. 15, and they really will be in 3-D (hence the title, "Jackass 3D.") And I'm certainly not afraid to admit that the antics of Johnny Knoxville and his crew are just the perfectly silly thing to get me laughing on a Saturday afternoon, so I'll be there to see it. Enjoy.
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And speaking of satire, there's one coming up that, if it's done right and with no mercy, could be really funny. Called "Butter," it takes on the 2008 Democratic presidential primary and takes it into the competitive world of butter sculpting (yes, really, I couldn't make that up.) In the flick, set to come out sometime next year, Jennifer Garner plays an ambitious butter sculptor in the Midwest who finds her rise challenged by a young black girl with a talent for the art (if you can really call it that.) I'm already laughing at the possibility for funny here, so enjoy this five-minute behind-the-scenes clip from Entertainment Tonight, which thankfully doesn't contain its usual habit of talking over all the footage.
It's been so long since the last "Narnia" movie, and they really just do have such an old-fashioned feel to them (even with all the nifty special effects), that it's pretty easy to forget all about them, but I liked "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" quite a bit, and "Prince Caspian" was even better, so you can certainly count me as amped for the third installment, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," set to come out Dec. 10. Here, straight from the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" DVD and courtesy of Narniafans.com, is the the second trailer I've seen for the flick. Enjoy.
And finally, the transition from swelteringly silly summer to more prestigious fall should start early this year with Anton Corbijn's "The American," set to come out Sept. 1 and star one George Clooney. This is only a brief TV spot, but the flick, starring Clooney as an American assassin who gets one final assignment to complete in Italy before retiring, is one of the movies I'm most looking forward to for the rest of this year, so enjoy, and have a great weekend. Peace out.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
Before I get into any of that, think: What's the best possible news you could hear about the return of "Glee" to make it even better than the wickedly funny/cheesy/outright entertaining show already is?
Well, how about Sue Sylvester's mom? In what, even if you don't watch the show you'll have to concede is rather genius casting, Carol Burnett will play the nazi-hunting mother of Jane Lynch's cheerleading coach/bully extraordinaire on a November episode of the Fox show. The only possibly bad news there? In the place where I first saw this, in Michael Ausiello's Entertainment Weekly column, it was pretty clear this will be for only one episode. Oh well.
And the baseball season may well have ended for the Orioles in, well, the second week of April or so, but my favorite team of lovable losers is now 2-0 under new manager Buck Showalter and are now guaranteed to win their fifth series of the year (out of 35, yes, but always look on the bright side of life.) As I heard some dude on ESPN radio say, and though of course I couldn't see him, it seemed to be with a straight face, "here come the Orioles," so watch out.
In their honor, here's a picture I found this morning of Philip Seymour Hoffman as A's manager Art Howe in the upcoming flick "Moneyball" that just made me smile. The flick itself is directed by Bennett Miller from the Michael Lewis book about general manager Billy Beane, who kept the team's payroll low and its winning percentage high (as opposed to the Orioles, who, oh well ...) One Brad Pitt is set to play Beane, who often clashed with Howe on the direction the team was taking. Anyways, this flick is one I'm definitely looking forward to. Here's the pic, which gets bigger if you click on it:
OK, finally on to the main event, I suppose. Although I managed to give up smoking long ago (and was never terribly good at it anyway), I still have plenty of bad habits, and the worst of them all just might be Will Ferrell movies. I haven't quite seen them all (I managed to just say no to whatever that basketball flick was called), but it's definitely well more than half, and I really can't explain why.
There all universally pretty stupid, but sometimes very funny too. An example: That "Stepbrothers" flick with John C. Reilly was a hoot. Yes, really. So, while I was at first at least trying to resist seeing his new flick directed by Adam McKay, "The Other Guys," it looks like it has enough going for it to make me spring for a matinee or so (though not this week, because I have to work six days and on my day off, I'm gonna see "The Kids Are All Right" instead, since that has one week at best to survive around here.)
The upside: Steve Coogan is not only in it, but is apparently the big bad, and I'll watch him in just about anything. Markie Mark and Samuel L. Jackson should also be very funny.
The downside: If it's bad, it will just be a 90-minute SNL sketch, and I already made that mistake once this year already with the not-even-for-90-seconds-funny "MacGruber" (yes, I see far too many movies.)
Anyways, if you happen to see this this weekend, please feel free to let me know if it was any good, and in the meantime, enjoy this mysteriously bleeped, four-minute clip of footage screened at Comic-Con, and have a perfectly pleasant Thursday. Peace out.
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
In the race to discover the most despicable use of 3-D technology yet, James Cameron's plans for a 3-D Black Eyed Peas concert movie (if that is still on) have now been surpassed by an even more ridiculous idea.
Now, before I spew any venom, let me say that I'm a very middle-aged dude, so far from the target audience for anything about Justin Bieber (though I really did enjoy that German TV clip in which when, asked to say something in German, he replied, "What is German?")
However, even a few of his most devoted teen and tween fans might scoff at this: A 3-D biopic about the 15-year-old singer's life, to be released next February and somehow be directed by Davis Guggenheim, who made "An Inconvenient Truth." Yes, really. Now, I suppose it's possible that his 15 years have been filled with enough drama and suffering to make a feature length movie work, but I somehow have my doubts.
As regards 3-D overall, and in case you couldn't tell already, I pretty much thoroughly hate it, The Wrap had an interesting set of numbers this morning about the gimmick's failing arc at the box office. Now, this isn't entirely fair, since I don't think anyone expected the "Cats & Dogs" sequel to make a ton of money, but the chart below is still very telling. Enjoy.
An $80 million opening for "Alice in Wonderland" (which, unlike a lot of people, I quite liked, IN 2-D) down to the dismal bow of "Cats & Dogs"? Now, that's a progression that has me hopeful, but The Wrap's article quickly doused those hopes with a big dose of reality. Here's an excerpt:
“I think the overall message isn't that 3D is a fad or that it’s going away, but I’m not sure we’re moving to a point where 50 percent of the box office is derived by 3D ticket sales as some of the bulls currently believe,” BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield told TheWrap.
With, as the New York Times noted Tuesday, nearly 60 3D releases queued up for the next two years, the “bulls” can still be found in herds back in Hollywood. In fact, the flurry will continue this weekend, when Disney releases “Step Up 3D.”
Now, I'm perfectly able to simply skip "Step Up 3D," and with "The Kids Are All Right" somehow opening at my local multiplex this week, I can even see a good movie, but 60 3-D movies in the next two years? Sheesh. All I can say is keep hope alive, because only you can stamp out the scourge that is 3-D, and it all starts with simply saying no.
OK, that was a lot of bile for a Wednesday morning, so why not some actual good news about a movie I really want to see instead? Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" finally drops next week, and I'm totally amped for it.
As part of the appropriately aggressive marketing push, Cartoon Network's [adult swim] will air a short animated film titled "Scott Pilgrim vs. The Animation" in two installments between midnight and 12:30 a.m. Aug. 12. The short will cover Scott's relationship with Sex Bob-omb drummer Kim Pine, and will feature the voices of Michael Cera and Alison Pill from the movie. And for those of you who, like me, are rarely up at that trouble-making hour on a school night, it will re-air on Friday the 13th (yes, again), the day the movie comes out, on both Adultswim.com and its facebook page. Nothing but groovy there.
And since I have a bit more time, there are some other TV tidbits out there today that are pretty juicy.
As "The Office" embarks on its final season with Steve Carell's Michael Scott as the boss of Dunder Mifflin, it seems he'll tangle with Timothy Oliphant, star of the great F/X Western of sorts "Justified" and just one of my favorite actors.
According to TV Guide, he'll have at least a two-episode run as a rival paper salesman who angers Michael and Dwight by stealing away their customers. In my mind, that's already funny.
And speaking of Westerns, they certainly seem to be getting new life on TV these days, and that's welcome news in my little corner of the world. AMC is now developing a period drama called "Hell on Wheels," which follows the story of a former Confederate soldier who ends up working on the transcontinental railroad in the Nebraska prairie as he hunts down the Union soldiers who killed his wife. Juicy. And in the latest casting news, Reel Fanatic favorite Colm Meaney has signed on for the role of Thomas “Doc” Durant, a businessman determined to make his fortune building the railroad.
The final bit of good TV news today is that FX has, somewhat surprisingly, picked up a second 13-episode season of "Louie," starring the comedian Louis CK. I'm only really surprised because, while I like it quite a bit, it certainly is a dark and bitterly funny brew, so not exactly designed to appeal to a broad audience.
And I'll leave you with this nugget from the latest Ebert Club newsletter, an enjoyable read every time it pops up in my e-mail box. It seems that BBC1 is either airing or has aired a series of three 90-minute episodes of "Sherlock," a take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories set in modern-day England (and hopefully more than a bit better than that mess with Robert Downey Jr. last year, and I have to assume, next year too.) In the best news of all, the series, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch (great name there) as Sherlock and Martin Freeman (of the original "The Office" - see, synergy) as Holmes, will be aired on PBS as part of its Masterpiece series early next year. Enjoy this short clip from the series, and have a perfectly bearable Wednesday. Peace out.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Editor's note: If you're reading this and aren't from Macon, GA, please know that this was written as a new weekly column I write for the Telegraph newspaper, and absorb its local elements as such.
It's no secret that the Macon Film Guild goes out of its way to show unique and entertaining movies, and they've certainly found one this week with the Argentinian thriller "The Secret in Their Eyes."
This surprise Best Foreign Film winner at this year's 2010 Academy Awards is worthy of the honor, as director Juan Jose Campanella turns what could have easily been a standard police procedural a la "Law & Order" into both a grand, unrequited romance and a film noir that fits in with the classics of the genre.
At the outset, we meet Benjamin Esposito, a retired legal investigator played by veteran Argentinian star Ricardo Darin who is now working on a true crime novel about the case that has plagued his memory for a long time, a particularly gruesome rape and murder. Returning to the courthouse that was his old base of operations, he's reunited with his former boss, an attorney played by Soledad Villamil, and you can see instantly both how and why he would have carried a torch for her love for so many years.
Using Esposito's novel as a structural device, Campanella, who also adapted the book by Eduardo Sacheri for the screenplay, lets the first half of the movie unfold as a series of memories infused along the way with both the complex politics of Argentina and the smoldering but unrequited passion of its leads. This first hour or so, as clever as it is, isn't without its faults however, as the killer is tracked down through a series of investigative contrivances that will often make you wince.
What makes this nonetheless riveting viewing is the performances at its core.
Darin, who also starred in two other sublime Argentinian thrillers for the late director Fabien Bielinsky, "The Aura" and "Nine Queens," brings such an urgency and fire to the role of Benjamin that you never tire of watching his complex tale unspool, no matter how many twists it take (and there are many.) And Villamil plays the object of his affection with both charm and a disarming wit that encourages him as often as it puts his wilder impulses in check. Perhaps best of all, however, is comedian Guillermo Francella, who brings soul to a stock role, Esposito's comic sidekick, that could have been instantly forgettable. His story arc packs an emotional punch that keeps the movie moving through its rougher patches.
And all the excesses of the investigation segment of Campanella's flick (the confession is particularly galling) can be forgiven when you find out what he's setting you up for, a "reveal" that unfolds slowly but in its suspense and games of memory rivals that of another recent Macon Film Guild offering, "Tell No One." As Esposito learns what became of the murder victim's lover, who like him was never able to let the case go, and also finally learns to follow his own heart, the movie takes a series of turns that will surprise as often as they delight viewers.
Far too complex and ambitious to be perfect, "The Secret in Their Eyes" is nonetheless a mesmerizing tale very well told, and a great way to beat the agonizing heat for a couple hours this Sunday at the Douglass Theatre.