Forget Jonathan Demme's messily self-involved, over-lapping dialogue happy, Altman-esque family melodrama, "Rachel Getting Married" (did we establish this connection with our lame headline?), if you want the real, true and honest portrait of dramatic family dynamics with a torrential rain of verbiage and documentary-like roving camera, "The Secret Of The Grain," is your picture (and of course sans shrill Bland Hathaway).
We'll try and not get into it too much as one of contributors also saw it and loved it and wants to write the film's full-blown review, but Arabic Tunisian director's Abdel Kechiche ("Sorry, Haters") is another wonderful, late-year edition to 2008 (the film opened up in limited release December 24).
The French-language film centers on the patriarch in a divided Algerian French family named Slimane (Habib Boufares, the character's name is pronounced Souli-mane); an immigrant doc worker who loses his job and then aspires to start up a restaurant with the help of his girlfriend and her daughter and his family and ex-wife; the latter of which an amazing cook that makes that greatest fish couscous this side of the Maghreb (the title of the film references the cuisine, "La Grain Et Le Mulet" basically means "The Couscous And The Fish"; mullet being a type of small fish that's an integral ingredient to the dish).
We're already saying too much, but in closing, 'Grain' is not afraid of talk instead of plot and it will stick with an extended scene far longer than you average director would dare. It's alive, intense and boisterous, but rewarding, teeming with life and incredibly vibrant. The remarkable emphasis on character to inform story is a fascinating reverse angle at establishing some of the class, intolerance and socio-immigrant issues too. The heartbreaking ending is also up there with "No Country For Old Men," "There Will Be Blood" in drop-dead powerfully jolting conclusions.
The film currently has an incredible 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and comes with a ton of accolades including 4 trophies at the 2008 César Awards (The French Oscars) including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Female Newcomer (Hafsia Herzi). It also earned a lot of accolades at the 2007 Venice Film Festival. We're not sure if it's been released, but we're told the New York Times A.O. Scott has placed the film in his Top 5. In other words if you remotely appreciate intimate, vociferous and and fully living and breathing family ensembles, you must see this film. Those that remember and love the vastly underrated 1996 Campbell Scott/ Stanley Tucci preparing for the big dinner film, "Big Night" should enjoy this as well. Fair warning: do not miss this film.
Forget Jonathan Demme's messily self-involved, over-lapping dialogue happy, Altman-esque family melodrama, "Rachel Getting Married" (did we establish this connection with our lame headline?), if you want the real, true and honest portrait of dramatic family dynamics with a torrential rain of verbiage and documentary-like roving camera, "The Secret Of The Grain," is your picture (and of course sans shrill Bland Hathaway).
Ok, we don't really have that much time at the moment, but we just wanted to say Carlos Reygadas' "Silent Light" was drop-dead stunning, and one of the most incredible moving and accomplished films we've seen all year.
It premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and is just now getting a release in North America. It's U.S. release begins in New York the first week in January. We've been clocking the film all year, noting when it's received acclaim and noted that it's Mexico's official selection for the 2008 Foreign Oscar category (despite being spoken almost entirely in Plautdietsch, a dialect of Russian Mennonites). We missed it when it hit New York in a one-off screening in the fall, but luckily just caught up with it.
Centering on a a very devout Mennonite facing a spiritual and moral crisis in the form of wanton adultery, Reygada's marvelous 'Light' is easily the most aptly titled film of the year as it is wholly characterized by a gorgeous natural light that blankets the film like a godly sheen and a disquieting silence that pervades and acts as the soundtrack to the characters tortured inner thoughts and dramas.
Terrence Malick and (the great cinematographer) Nestor Almendros (and let's not forget Haskell Wexler's semi-uncredited work) would be proud. It's one of the most visually beautiful and emotionally shimmering pieces of work we've seen since, "Days Of Heaven."
More later...we're mostly ideologically opposed to last minute films breaking into ones Top 10 list, but something this good moves mountains and make exceptions.
Indiewire placed Hou Hsiao-hsien's "Flight Of The Red Balloon" homage (to the children's classic short, "The Red Balloon") as their number one film of the year based on a poll of 100 film critics.
We were a bit surprised so we raced out Christmas eve to rent it, catch up (we missed it earlier this year) and see what the fuss was about. Frankly, we were really excited, perhaps this was a gem that we had missed and a diamond in the rough around Xmas is always a nice cinematic treat.
Now, we're not going to discount these critics, but we're pretty sure we know the way these polls work. 100 people submit a top 10 list and the film that gets mentioned the most essentially takes the number 1 spot which is fine, but in this case, we think a weighted poll system might have been better suited.
We liked, 'Balloon,' its a sweet, tender, aesthetically pleasing and thoughtful film, but it's also a tad ponderous and really goes nowhere. There's a lot of threads picked up that never really say much of go anywhere. This updated version has Juliette Binoche as a single mother, Simon Iteanu as her quiet and very cute little boy and Fang Song as the boy's new caretaker who's also a film maker who's making a little film homage to the 'Red Balloon.' Binoche is voice puppeteer, she has to deal with her indigent downstairs neighbor who's decided to stop paying rent and her absent husband who's decided to leave the family for two years to go write a book in Montreal, but these are the most "conflicts" you'll see.
'Red Balloon' is pretty and soft, but it's pacing, rhythm and "plot" is kind of like a cloud in the sky that drifts by. It's ultimately very ephemeral. It's nice to admire and you can get momentarily lost in its beauty, but it's not really something that's going to linger or carry much weight to it in the long run. [B-]
We're sort of posting this as excuse to say, has everyone noticed how absolutely radiant Kate Winslet has been on the press tour of "Revolutionary Road"? Maybe not so much in this video, but check any recent premiere photos when she's all done up. She's got a great tan, she looks super fit, it's like she did her Hollywood colonic-thingy, health regime attack in anticipation of all the press she'd be doing for her husband Sam Mendes' film, but either way, she looks gorgeous and sometimes its hard to argue with them 2-month pre-press Tinseltown fixer/uppers.
By now you've probably heard that the saccharine puppy comedy, "Marley & Me" with Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston has come out in front for this extended holiday weekend box-office. Obviously the "weekend" is not over yet, but estimates so far have 'Marley' out front with a Christmas day record of $14.5 million. "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button" is not far behind with a $11.5 million total so far and Adam Sandler's "Bedtime Stories is third with $10.3 million according to Box Office Mojo (though according to Nikki Finke, 'Ben Button' fell to #3 today and her box-office gurus are projecting a total no bigger than $25 million).
Blah, blah. More interesting to is the fact that a Philadelphia man shot another man for talking to his son during a screening of David Fincher's 'Button.' According to Philly.com, James Joseph Cialella Jr., 29, of South Philly has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons violations. The man was shot in the arm and thankfully, not killed.
That's a little excessive, especially around the holidays, but we do hope this encourages people to STFU during movies already. People who talk and or answer their cell phones during movies is total grounds for shooting someone with impunity, or at least a sweet shot to the kisser. Ushers should immediately kick out anyone talking on cell phones in our opinion (texting is pretty awful to, but there is a way to be discreet about it, but most people aren't so we don't endorse it).
Meanwhile in related 'Ben Button' news not quite as violent, the screenwriter Eric Roth has sued his investment manager after suffering "massive losses" as a result of a Ponzi scheme (pyramid scam) according to TMZ.
Thanks for reading this year and we hope you're having some happy holidays and not being terrorized and tormented by some brutal teenage younger brother (ahem). We're sorry we never got a chance to do The Playlist gift guide feature we had planned. We ran out of time. However, if for some reason you're still shopping or you're not seeing a love one until the New Year, we have three cinephile-centric recommendations. You can always save them for next year.
1. Cinephile Rock T-shirts. We've been rocking the Werner Herzog/Danzig one for a while now. The Ozu one is awesome. We appreciate the directors they pick and glad they haven't done the obvious lot (Tarantino, etc.)
2. The Ingmar Bergman Archives Taschen book.
3. The Stanley Kubrick Archives Taschen book.
4. Extra credit Pimp Edition: Criterion's Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films DVD collection. For mack daddies and true cinephile only (someone's really gotta love you to get that one).
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.
Film critics are a funny bunch towards one another. If one critic agrees happens to agree with you, he or she is OK, but god forbid if one writer can't see the light like you can, lord, than they're fucking retarded and a piece of trash, etc. etc. It happens all the time when people are passionate about things they love and hate and should be taken with a grain of salt.
We're not much different. Last year, we pretty much disavowed Time Out New York critic Melissa Anderson for putting Richard Kelly's "Southland Tales," at the top (or near the top) of her Best of 2007 picks. We loathed the preposterous and foolish, 'Tales' so much we were outraged and practically disgusted with her choice that we assumed had much to do with the so-bad-its-genius! ironic stance that we have generally have zero time for.
This year, however, Anderson is redeemed! Why? Well, because she agrees with us of course, what else would it be? (how fucking convenient, right?) Last year, she had pretty much forfeited all critical good will, but this year we love her (ha!) for pretty much sharing our opinion of "Rachel Getting Married."
Anderson puts it at the top of her Worst Films Of The Year List (again, an extremist move, we didn't care for it much, especially Anne Hathaway, but we didn't hate it). But what she writes about the film is on the money (and mostly aimed at Hathaway anyh0w).
"Performing hysteria isn’t acting; hauling out the language of recovery and 12-stepping yet again doesn’t constitute dialogue. Emotionally fraudulent from beginning to end, this toxic, sprawling mess is narcissistic American filmmaking at its worst."
We've seemingly hated on "The Dark Knight" all year, but in all seriousness, it's a bit of a playful jest on our part, because we get tired of hearing about one film, especially when so many others are so deserving.
We'll still be slightly annoyed if it does score a Best Picture nomination, but it's not like it's not a worthy film. We just started a poll in our left nav about the Batman's chances for Oscar, but contrary to popular belief, we do think 'TDK' still has a shot. Pundits and people like to say that the Academy members always throw in a surprise, but remember, it's not like they vote together and collectively decide to laud something else. It's a different group of people with a different mindset. It's not critics, nor are they bloggers. They industry members who have worked on many of these films and have a different attitude.
We think many of them are going to appreciate the artistry of "The Dark Knight," especially in a year when the "serious" Oscar bait isn't that amazing. Now if we had to put money down, we'd probably bet against 'Dark Knight,' but it wouldn't be a huge bet to say the least. It's kind of a shame that Oscar doesn't release the numbers of how many members voted for what and which films almost made the cut, because we're certain if Christopher Nolan's film doesn't get nominated the numbers will be very close (And yes, Heath Ledger is still a lock for a nomination if not the win).
Oscars are a funny thing if you compare years too. A lot of bad decisions have been made. Could you imagine if Nolan didn't get a directing nomination, but history will show that Jason Reitman did get out for "Juno"? (a cute film, but how in tarnation did that ever get a Best Picture nod??). "Little Miss Sunshine" is another one that makes us cringe as in retrospect the only thing award worthy from that whole thing was Alan Arkin.
Those latter two film shows the Academy's recent willingness to nominate (or be swayed by) films with a lighter touch, perhaps being somewhat inundated and overwhelmed with all the "dark" films. Does that mean "Wall-E" or "Slumdog Millionaire," could take that "slot" (it sort of make us chuckle how some think of it like it's some official position reserved for these types of film)? Probably not for the former Pixar film.
Will "Revolutionary Road" get shut out like it has all awards season? It's sure looking that way, which is a shame because it's a deserving film with strong performances by Leo, Kate and Michael Shannon. More so when you consider "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button" will probably steal its thunder and it's not really an Oscar worthy Best Picture film contrary to what many people think.
The final five? It's what it's always been for months, but we're still holding out hope for Sam Mendes 'Road.' We would love to see "Doubt" take a Best Picture nod too, but it looks like the film will have to settle for dominating the acting nomination categories, which we suppose isn't the worst thing. Add to our We'll Get Annoyed If This (Fill In The Blank) Gets Nominated list, is Kate Winslet's performance in "The Reader," a wholly undeserving film on almost every level outside of music and cinematography.
Black Christmas? 'Watchmen' Fans Delivered Crappy Gift; Judge Sides With 20th Century Fox Over WB In Copyright Interest Claim
The New York Times has some breaking news on the Warner Bros. Vs. 20th Century Fox legal tussle over the graphic novel adaptation of Alan Moore's "Watchmen" as directed by Zack Snyder.
And it's bad Christmas day news for "Watchmen" fans. An L.A. federal judge has said he he intends to grant 20th Century Fox’s claim that it owns a copyright interest in the “Watchmen” movie.
Warner Bros. is obviously distributing the film which is set for a March 6, 2009 release and Fox has asserted for months now that they started own part of the project and have been trying to block the film's release.
According to the Times, which called the ruling a "surprise" one, "The decision was disclosed in a five-page written order issued on Wednesday. Gary A. Feess, a judge in the United States District Court for Central California, said he would provide a more detailed order soon."
Guess who's getting hate mail that's probably being written right now. WB spokes people wouldn't comment.
During an earlier hearing, the judge said he thought the matter could be settled in court, but now he saying , jesus: “Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the ‘Watchmen’ motion picture.”
That's fucking huge, however Judge Feess has advised both Fox and Warner to look toward a settlement or an appeal. “The parties may wish to turn their efforts from preparing for trial to negotiating a resolution of this dispute or positioning the case for review,” he said.
Fox is now playing on home court and gets to set the terms if there is a settlement, but with the economy the way it is and "Watchmen" looking like a lucrative blockbuster that slipped out of their hands, this could get ugly for Warner Bros. Fox distributing the film seems doubtful, they don't want to be the bad guys to block the film, but Warner's forking over a ton of cash isn't out of the question at all. Somewhere at WB someone is being screamed at while home for the holidays. Over at Fox, the "Watchmen" poster, that says, "justice is coming to all of us. no matter what we do" is now being looked at with snickering irony.
Various sites have "The Land Of The Lost" poster and the new "Fast & Furious," the subtitle to the latter is, no joke, "New Model, Original Parts." Can't keep track of who had Will Ferrell's 'Lost' first, but 'Furious's is obviously an MTV exclusive.
Neither film looks particularly interesting frankly, but Jeffrey Wells makes us laugh by calling it, " 'Night at the Museum' meets 'Jurassic Park' and 'Jumanji.'"
'Lost' will also co-star Danny McBride and comes out June 5, 2009. We'll be looking for a screening cause we ain't paying to see that.
A bit more interesting is this elegant fan-made poster for "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button." As many have noted, including /Film that were sent the poster, the studio posters for 'Button' are pretty underwhelming.
God, this topic is getting fucking boring, but "Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz talked to Fancast about the rumors of who was the "acting holdout" on the feature version of the beloved TV sitcom. They asked, was it Michael Cera (duh) or Will Arnett.
"I don’t want to talk about who is holding out right now because we might still work that out and I don’t want to pressure anyone through the press," Hurwitz said. "Although I will say that Will Arnett is gung-ho, so there’s a big clue!"Via Defamer who still thinks this only is simply just more evidence for the "nay" column of Michael Cera rather than crystal-clear concrete proof that we've all already known for weeks.
All we gotta say is if Michael Cera decides not to do it, fanboys and obsessives better get off his back about it. Let him be and good on 'em for not wanting to cash in here.
"The Dark Knight" might be near invincible, but at Christmas time when the sales battles go head to head on DVD, the shadowy Gotham figure has been toppled by a bunch of middle aged women under the aegis of Swedish pop stars.
Yup, "Mamma Mia" has dethroned the 'Knight' on the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert sales chart landing at number 1 for the week ending Dec. 21, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Christopher Nolan's Batman sequel will remain the top-selling DVD of the year, but for this week, 'Mia' outsold the comic book noir, though TDK' did as much business in its second week as the musical comedy did.
"The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," also bumped 'Dark Knight' to the second-place spot on Home Media Magazine's rental chart for the week. Whether there is a rise in female teen assaults next week due to upset Batman obsessives remains to be seen, but "Mamma Mia" pre-teens and Abba enthusiasts are being strongly encouraged to leave all pins, T-shirts and promotional clothing or paraphernalia at home for the next few weeks.
Speaking of IndieWire, their critics Top 10 picks (and the ones that represent the IndieWire's 100 Critics Picks Poll) are tied to films that were officially released in North America in 2008. But many of their critics saw tons of films this year at festivals that weren't technically 2008 films because they have yet to find North American distribution.
One of our absolute favorite films of the year (we're not tied by the IndieWire rules), a film we've been going on about given any small chance we could (which wasn't often enough, frankly considering how much we've mouthed off about it in person) was, Lucrecia Martel's "The Headless Woman" and the same 100 critics polled by IndieWire picked her third feature-length film as the Best Undistributed Movie of the year.
The oblique picture about a woman in a strange car accident throws her life off kilter, is definitely a challenging and actually got booed at Cannes earlier this year, but some people (including us), were, not dazzled... but astounded by the disconcerting and disorienting nature of the film. It's an experience and it's stayed with us all year and made us relook at all of Martel's films that do an incredible precise (but not premeditated) job of eschewing basic film grammar. We kept asking ourselves, why is this film making us lose our equilibrium? And a lot of it has to do with with the way Martel does away with establishing shots, transitions and a lot of accepted basic films forms. And it's not like it's wacky, out-there, filmmaking either; her work is understated and incredibly acute and perceptive. We said the film "was a fascinatingly unnerving and purposefully disorienting picture and not like anything we've seen in a while."
Her use of negative space, man, we can't even do it justice, but there's an intensely haunting emotion to the film that had resonated and lingered. Look for it on our year end list for sure.
Second on the list was Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo's "Night And Day" (which we haven't seen) and third was Chilean director Pablo Larrain's "Tony Manero," which basically tracks a psychopath during the disco/Pinochet dictatorship regime (which we didn't love per se, but we did like quite a bit and it certainly shouldn't go undistributed or unnoticed).
Another film on the list is the Mexican film, "Voy A Explotar!" (I'm Going To Explode") which is also one of our favorite films of the year. There are 76 films on IndieWire's Best Undistributed Films Of 2008.
Here's the Top 10.
o1 - The Headless Woman
02 - Night and Day
03 - Tony Manero
04 - Birdsong
05 - 35 Shots of Rum
06 - United Red Army
07 - I'm Going To Explode
08 - Sparrow
09 - Liverpool
11 - Afterschool
Here's the Spanish-language trailer for "The Headless Woman" ("La Mujer Sin Cabeza").
Man, who would have thought? Hou Hsiao-hsien's "Flight Of The Red Balloon" top IndieWire's Poll of 100 North American critics as the Best Film Of 2008. We're not sure what other widespread poll asks 100 critics for its picks, but that's a pretty substantial number and nothing to scoff at. Arnaud Desplechin's "A Christmas Tale," came in second. And populist fare like "Wall-E" ranked well above something supposedly more indie-friendly than "The Wrestler."
We'll be totally honest. We never saw 'Red Balloon. One friend of ours, a trusted critic, saw it and said it was once of the worst films he saw all year and we weren't that hot on the idea of a remake/"inspired by" reimagination of such a beloved film and we let it pass us by. We guess we'll have to rectify that asap. It has a solid, not mind-blowing 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Man On Wire" was named the Best Documentary and we certainly can't argue with that one.
Lance Hammer's "Ballast" was honored with the Best First Feature award, and Charlie Kaufman's screenplay for "Synecdoche, New York" scored the prize for Best Original Screenplay (our issues with the film aside, we really have no issue there either, as the screenplay was great). Mickey Rourke's role in "The Wrestler" was singled out as the Best Performance, while Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight" took the award for Best Supporting Performance.
As note by IndieWire, Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky" ranked high in many categories including #5 on the Best Films list. The complete results are here, including the full ballots of every person that voted (if you want to know certain critics taste or picks) and their comments.
Here's the Top 10 list.
1 The Flight of the Red Balloon
2 A Christmas Tale
4 Wendy and Lucy
6 Paranoid Park
7 Still Life
8 Silent Light*
9 Synecdoche, New York
10 Waltz with Bashir
Technically '09 isn't it? Since its NY film release doesn't start til January, tsk, tsk (we're just jealous cause we missed our screening, but it's kinda true).
You've heard it once, you've heard it again, but it's always interesting to hear it through the man's (Mickey Rourke's) voice rather than just in quotes. All journalism and (and especially blogging) would be radically different if every quote you read could be viewed and heard, cause tone is at least 50% of every thing that comes out anyone's mouth.
Haters and Fincher whiners will cry that we're picking on 'Ben Button' but Awards Daily, Rope Of Silicon and InContention are noting Roger Ebert's review with the latter asking, 'Is Button On The Rocks?'
"I can’t help but consider the fact that Ebert’s tastes are typically comparable to the Academy’s. Might this reaction and some of those “it lacks a soul” quips begin to eat away at the armor?" InContention posits.
Ebert himself, writes, "Yes, you say, but Benjamin Button’s story is a fantasy. I realize that. It can invent as much as it pleases. But the film’s admirers speak of how deeply they were touched, what meditations it invoked. I felt instead: Life doesn’t work this way. We are an observer of our passage, and so are others. It has been proposed that one reason people marry is because they desire a witness to their lives. How could we perform that act of love if we were aging in opposite directions?"
Others give it the thumbs up, but still have issue with it like EW's Lisa Schwarzbaum who gave the movie a A- review, but says the film is “an extravagantly ambitious movie that’s easy to admire but a challenge to love.”
"The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button" opens tomorrow (December 25, Christmas Day) in wide release. It currently has a good, but not amazing, 75% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a lesser 72% rating on Metacritic, both of which aren't far off our B- grade which is a 70% rating once converted through the alpha four-point grading system. We know some friends and critics who saw it with us that would say we were being far too generous.
“I’ve never spoken with Rachel McAdams, though it’s a fine idea,” David Fincher told MTV on his recent 'Benjamin Button' press tour talking about his Eliot Ness film project, "Torso." "I’ve spoken with Casey [Affleck].”
Does that mean Matt Damon ain't a rumor? He doesn't say. But what's his motivation for wanting to tell the Eliot Ness story again? Apparently it's the flawed heroism of the protagonist who made a lot of his own mistakes and brutal decisions in the name of justice and even compares him to inaugural FBI director, psychopath J. Edgar Hoover.
"[Ness is] kind of the self-righteous, American do-gooder. He was an interesting and extremely flawed guy who had a lot of problems. He did a lot of destructive things in the name of cleaning up the streets. Not to take anything away from [Ness] — he wasn’t an evil guy at all — but at one point in his career he burned to the ground a shanty town in Cleveland. This was three or four years after The Untouchables. He was just like 27 when The Untouchables happened. He was really young.” “He sort of fashioned himself as a J. Edgar Hoover,” added Fincher. “The bureau’s image of Ness and how he stole some of their limelight is in there.”
MTV caught up with David Fincher when promoting "The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button" and of course got a payload of stories out of it including news on the "Chef" sex comedy with Keanu Reeves and his animated, "Heavy Metal" project.
So what's up with the "Fight Club" musical that we're still sort of convinced is a long-running gag between Fincher and friends? Apparently it's too cost prohibitive.
"It's too expensive. I really don't know. I've talked to [director/stage director] Julie Taymor and she sort of talked me down. I talked to [producer] Scott Rudin about it. I wanted to get him involved. He just laughed."Hmm, ok, if it's a gag, he still sounds pretty serious about it,but either way, it sounds like it's not happening. So did Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails write any music for it that will go to waste then? Unfortunately not.
"No. He's interested in it. He wanted to know more about what it was going to be. I saw it as being like a rock show — a lot of projection, a lot of computer-generated imagery, a lot of conveyor belts. It was really cinematic but really twisted."
As for what's next and how his experience was with directing 'Benjamin Button,'? Fincher says dryly and not without a quiet dig, "I've just spent five years pushing a rock up the Paramount mountain and I'm perfectly happy to do a short for an anthology and some television commercials"
Cash-Poor George Lucas Finally Sells Off Rights To 'Star Wars' Musical; 'Narnia' Dumped By Disney And More...
Where have we been? Taking a well deserved rest, that's where, but we're a little bored today, so we're coming out of the woodwork and from our self-imposed at-home movies marathon. Here's stuff that's been happening for the four-five days we've been offline.
George Lucas has finally signed off on a "Star Wars" musical. He probably has a few less millions to play with because of the economy. Maybe we should start a paypal account for him. [E!Online] Apparently a "Star Wars" musical has been proposed several times, but Lucas, afraid it might taint the mythos of the magical films. Now that that's been taken care of with "Phantom Menace" and the rest of the godawful prequels, Lucas obviously has nothing standing in his way. Let's hope Bill Murray's rendition of the "Star Wars" theme isn't overlooked.
Poor Narnia. Apparently not having raked in enough tens of millions of dollars, Disney has evidently canceled plans for a third, "Chronicles of Narnia" film. Walden Media no longer has a studio to act as co-financier and will need to find a new one if they hope to continue the franchise. Another victim of the economy or did the Burger King tie-ins prove to just be not that successful? We couldn't identify a Narnia cast member or character in a line-up if our life depended on it and we hope for it to stay that way. Apparently 'Narnia 3' was in the pre-production stage when Disney pulled the plug. [THR]
"Tron 2" or T2rn 2.0" or whatever its called has apparently added some original cast member (who??) to the new film. Congratulations? [ComingSoon]
Sandra Bullock is rumored to be joining the heretofore sausage fest that is Sylvester Stallone's action
unintentional comedy, "The Expendables." [JoBlo]
Eddie Murphy has denied reports that he will play The Riddler in the next installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise, or the follow-up to "The Dark Knight" if you will. Gee, we're glad Murphy cleared that up. However the British "reporter" is sticking to his guns and saying the story is true. Suuuuure it is. [Splash/Splash]
A remake of Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" has been cancelled. Good, we're never sure why people ever try to best classics, they're bound to fail. Remake movies with good premises that were poorly executed for whatever reason. [Collider]
Micheal Cera to play Gilligan in movie version of "Gilligan's Island"? The writer of the series wants Cera (yeah, if he's frosty on an "Arrested Development" movie, we're suuuuure he's interested here). [/Film]
The Screen Actors Guild strike is probably not going to happen. [The Hollywood Reporter]
The attention to detail and background info in Quentin Tarantino's WWII film, "Inglourious Basterds" is turning out be quite rich and thorough which is nice to see.
Recent set photos from Paris, where 'Basterds' is now shooting, have revealed faux vintage movie posters for the character Bridget von Hammersmark who's played by Diane Kruger (photos of her have already surfaced). Kruger's Hammersmark is a popular film star in Nazi Germany, but she's also an Allied spy, but it's great to see the backstory they've created for her. We wonder if they'll show glimpses of her film, ala, the Eli Roth-directed film within the film, "Nation's Pride."
If Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" didn't seem like a loveletter to cinema on top of being just a WWII homage, make it known now. These posters are just further evidence. Recent video footage from the set has also made its way online, but it's pretty boring outside of seeing Daniel Brühl walking around and a quick shot of Melanie Laurent.
In related 'Basterds' news, the Boston Globe is reporting that Eli Roth's younger brother may have a cameo in the film (there's a flashback scene in the film that is set in Boston and stars Roth and Cloris Leachmen).
Lastly, 'Basterds' cinematographer, Robert Richardson, has provided
Tarantino Archives with this Christmas wish to all.
We don't really care, but "Monsters vs. Aliens," comes out March 27, 2009, and evidently "reinvents the classic '50s monster movie into an irreverent modern day action comedy."
Whatever. Voices include, Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie ("House," "Stuart Little"), Will Arnett ("Arrested Development," "Blades of Glory"); Seth Rogen ("Knocked Up," "Superbad"); Rainn Wilson ("The Office"); Stephen Colbert ("The Colbert Report"); Kiefer Sutherland ("24," "Phone Booth"); and Paul Rudd ("Knocked Up," "Night at the Museum").
"Monsters vs. Aliens" is directed by Rob Letterman ("Shark Tale") and it marks the theatrical debut of DreamWorks Animation's Ultimate 3-D. Actors love these films because they pay well for little work. Audiences love these films because their kids can sit still for an hour and a half. We love these films cause they make for fast, easy filler content and hell, somebody will be interested.
Fandango is probably the most popular online movie tickets site, no? (a quick Alexa.com scan shows it beats movietickets.com pretty handily) So the site a decent barometer for what the pleebs and ham and eggers are looking forward for next year. Fandango has released its list of Most Anticipated Blockbusters of 2009 as voted by its male and female users and its New Year’s picks for the Sexiest Stars (because Fandango users come complete with a chip embedded in their brain that allows them the knowledge of what actors and actresses will be the sexiest in 2009 even though they have yet to see them in the film).
According to its female users, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" is the most anticipated with the "Twilight" sequel, "New Moon," coming in second. For males, the most anticipated blockbuster of 2009 for Fandango users is "Star Trek," with "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," coming in second and 'Half-Blood Prince' at third (Michael Bay fans will be happy to know "Transformers 3" already has a release date of June 29, 2011).
Will this be any indication of the top-grossing films of 2009 in North America? Mmm, not exactly, but surely its ballpark figures of what will be big, no? Not that we care for most of these films, but...
MOST ANTICIPATED BLOCKBUSTERS FOR 2009
According to Female Fandango Users
1. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince": 25%
2. "New Moon": 15%
3. "Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen": 11%
4. "Angels & Demons": 9%
5. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine": 7%
6. "Star Trek": 6%
7. "Public Enemies": 5%
8. "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian": 4%
9. "The Lovely Bones": 3%
10. "Where the Wild Things Are": 2%
According to Male Fandango Users:
1. "Star Trek": 23%
2. "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen": 17%
3. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince": 14%
4. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine": 9%
5. "Terminator Salvation": 7%
6. "Watchmen": 7%
7. "Angels & Demons": 5%
8. "Public Enemies": 3%
9. "G.I. Joe": 3%
10. "New Moon": 3%
Remember the Diablo Cody-penned horror comedy, "Jennifer's Body," starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried (a script we read earlier this year and loved)? Well, the film has now been given an official release date which is Sept. 18, 2009.
Fine and great, yes? Directed by Karyn Kusama ("The L Word"), perverts and red-blooded males will remember the fact that the sexually titillating film not only sports an alleged sapphic make-out scene between Seyfriend and Fox (though its not in the script we read), it boasts a sort-of nude scene for Fox, images of which leaked online earlier this year.
However, according the chest-icles loving movie site JoBlo (our favorite source of course), the "topless scene" has been cut from the film and said the film was pretty terrible to boot. One of their pals saw an early cut of the film and said, "Nonetheless not only did we not see her topless but the movie was indeed quite awful."
Modeled after films like, "Heathers" and generic horror films, “Jennifer’s Body” chronicles a gorgeous cheerleader (Fox), who’s possessed by a demon and starts feeding off teenage boys in a small Minnesota farming town. Her best friend (Seyfried) must kill her, then escape from a correctional facility to go after the Satan-worshipping emo rock band responsible for the horrible transformation.
taste isn't the best so we'll hold out hope, though we can see how that film could be a piece of shit if fallen into the wrong directorial hands (we've never really seen We're sorry to hear it's not good, but JoBlo'sKusama's work).
Those worked up in a frenzy over Megan Fox's "deleted nude scene" should calm down. Even in the original script, you just see Fox come out of the water naked from afar (hence the pasties to make it look like she's nude), there was never a big nude scene from the beginning. What boner fans should really get worked up over is the Seyfried/Fox make-out scene in the film, which was not in the original screenplay, but apparently still made the cut that JoBlo saw. However, whether Seyfried is part of the kiss seems doubtful. "There was a scene where it's a real big close up of [Fox] kissing another chick (YES!!!!)," writes JoBlo with typical girl-on-girl enthusiasm, but if it was Seyfried, you'd think they know. Sounds like it's not her despite the reports.
The musical score to 'Body' is being written by Theodore Shapiro who is also composing the music for the Harold Ramis biblical comedy "Year One,"produced by Judd Apatow and starring, Michael Cera and Jack Black. Shaprio also did the music for "Tropic Thunder" "Semi-Pro" and "Marley & Me" in 2008.
"Jennifer's Body" opens in theaters September 18, 2009 with our without pasties and co-starring make-out scenes.
Steven Soderbergh and his cinematographic alter ego Peter Andrews seem to be moving at an extremely fast clip these days shuffling from one project to another with lighting proficiency. Lately Soderbergh's almost on par with Clint Eastwood or Woody Allen, cranking out two films a year. We're happy to see him churn out as many films as possible, as long as they're as exciting and refreshing as "Che" or retain the two-a-year potency of "Traffic" and "Erin Brokovich."
For his next title, Soderbergh has finished shooting a dark comedic thriller called "The Informant," which is based on a nonfiction book of the same title by Kurt Eichenwald and is currently in post-production with a September 18, 2009 release date.
The film stars Matt Damon, sporting a stache, pot belly, and way too many cheesy Hawaiian T-shirts. Damon plays Mark Whitacre, a high ranking executive of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) who worked as an FBI informant to reveal a Lysine (animal feed additive) price fixing scheme in the mid 1990's. The only problem is that Whitacre was busy working both sides of the fence as he was eventually discovered to be embezzling money from ADM and was convicted of fraud in the price-fixing case. Whitacre spent eight years in prison as a result.
Of course Damon playing a man with bipolar disorder and a double identity seems like a perfect fit considering his past roles as Tom Ripley and Jason Bourne. The only question is how will they get him back into shape for the next Bourne project.
"This American Life" did an episode devoted to the true story back in 2004, listen to it here. Other cast members include Scott Bakula, Joel McHale and Melanie Lynskey. Plot Summary courtesy of Warner Brothers:
What was Mark Whitacre thinking? A rising star at agri-industry giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Whitacre suddenly turns whistleblower. Even as he exposes his company's multi-national price-fixing conspiracy to the FBI, Whitacre envisions himself being hailed as a hero of the common man and handed a promotion. But before all that can happen, the FBI needs evidence, so Whitacre eagerly agrees to wear a wire and carry a hidden tape recorder in his briefcase, imagining himself as a kind of de facto secret agent. Unfortunately for the FBI, their lead witness hasn't been quite so forthcoming about helping himself to the corporate coffers. Whitacre's ever-changing account frustrates the agents and threatens the case against ADM as it becomes almost impossible to decipher what is real and what is the product of Whitacre's rambling imagination. Based on the true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in U.S. history.
Oscar bait for 2009? Let's hope so.
Last we heard about "State Of Play," the Washington D.C., political thriller/journo expose, reports had surfaced that the two leads, Russell Crowe (the journalist) and Ben Affleck (the political figure) didn't really gel on the set. Since the characters were supposed to be best friends, some had wondered how this would effect the film.
Frankly, by the look of the trailer they have bigger issues, number one being: why does this look like a typical Hollywood political intrigue flick? Surely, they're modeling it after things like, "All The Presidents Men" or "The Parallex View," but it looks way cheaper and something more like, "Vantage Point" and lame Jack Ryan films like "Clear and Present Danger." We suppose it could be ok, but the trailer is very paint by numbers (the film also stars Rachel McAdams as Crowe's junior journo partner and Helen Mirren as his editor).
Also, add this to the long list of trailers jacking Darren Aronofsky's music collaborator, Clint Mansell. This trailer appropriates, "Dead Reckoning" from
" The Fountain ," "Smokin' Aces" near the end. Directed by Kevin Macdonald ("The Last King of Scotland"), the film opens April 17, 2009.
Bad weather or sub-par fare from top movie stars? You make the call. Warner Brothers' "Yes Man," starring Jim Carrey, came in at number one over the weekend with $18.2 million on over 3,400 screens, besting Will Smith's downer "Seven Pounds" which came in at $16 million. This is the lowest debut of a Smith vehicle since "Ali" in 2001.
Poor reviews for both films (more famously for "Pounds") are a likely culprit for an overall weekend box office down 44% from last year. Boston's box office dropped 81% from Friday last year, as an extreme example of the past weekend's downturn.
Despite a lackluster debut from "Yes Man," Warner Brother's is still set to hold the record for most money grossed by a single studio in one year: $1.68 billion as Friday. Thank you, 'Dark Knight'!) Fox Searchlight is also doing well as "Slumdog Millionaire" placed 8th with just over $3 million and opened "The Wrestler" to a wider release this weekend.
Coming in third last weekend at $10.5 million was "The Tale of Desperaux," which stars Matthew Broderick as a CGI-ed, swashbuckling mouse with big ears. The kids have to have something to watch during Oscar season, right? "Desperaux" will have Adam Sandler's "Bedtime Stories" from Disney, as well as "Marley and Me" to contend with this coming Thursday.
While WB & Columbia (which put out "Seven Pounds") are hoping for continued success with their debuts from last week, expect the aforementioned family fare and 'Benjamin Button' to help dash some of those hopes. Oh yeah, "Valkyrie" and "The Spirit" are coming out this week too, if you're looking for a nice quiet hiding place.
Here's the rundown:
1. "Yes Man" $18.16 Million
2. "Seven Pounds" $16 Million
3. "The Tale of Desperaux" $10.5 Million
4. "The Day the Earth Stood Still" $10.15 Million
5. "Four Christmases" $7.745 Million
6. "Twilight" $5.2 Million
7. "Bolt" $4.25 Million
8. "Slumdog Millionaire" $3.15 Million
9. "Australia" $2.325 Million
10. "Quantum of Solace" $2.15 Million
11. "Milk" $1.6 Million
12. "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" $1.5 Million
[via Variety & Yahoo!]
Production company 2000 AD, with the joint efforts of Rebellion and DNA Films (of such Danny Boyle fare as "Sunshine" and "28 Days Later") announced on their website, that filming on a new production "Judge Dredd" will begin next year.
No word on Sly Stallone's involvement yet, but I think we can safely assume we won't get to hear him mumble "I am duh law" anytime soon. [via 2000 AD]
Arcana Studios is set to develop a film adaptation of "Paradox," which was written by Christos Gage (Marvel Comics' "Thunderbolts" & "Avengers: The Initiative," Wildstorm Comics' "Stormwatch: P.H.D.") for Arcana Comics.
"Paradox", which will be scripted by Gage and his wife, Ruth Fletcher Gage, tells the story of a police detective set in a world powered by magic. Sounds like a little bit of "Fringe" combined with some elements of "The Prestige," perhaps.
Both Gages have worked together on "Law & Order: SVU." Sean P. O'Reilly (Arcana) and Aaron L. Gilbert (Bron Management) are set to produce. [via Variety]