30 November 2009

Hillcoat to Direct The Promised Land

UPDATE: Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, and Mia Wasikowska have joined the film, again titled, The Wettest County in the World. Glad to hear a project directed by John Hillcoat and penned by Nick Cave will see the light of day.

UPDATE: Gosling and Adams have dropped out of production. It looks like the project might be dead.

John Hillcoat is soon to be at work adapting another piece of literature: The Wettest County in the World, written by Matt Bondurant, and scripted by 'Proposition' writer Nick Cave. I was initially skeptical after hearing about the casting of Shia LaBeouf, but with Ryan Gosling and Amy Adams onboard this seems like a much more rounded out cast. If this turns out to be half as good as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford I will be in line opening night.

29 November 2009

Olde Timey Humour

A blast from the past

28 November 2009

FYC: The Hurt Locker

It's still early but with Avatar yet to be seen and Up in the Air, and Precious all leading voting blocs The Hurt Locker will need to make its push early.

(Courtesy: Awards Daily)

20 November 2009

Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

There are many criticisms towards Wes Anderson as a director and his films, mainly, that they are pretty to look at but do not have much beneath the surface. The criticism that Anderson's film are hollow is an easy one to make, but a faulty one. If you do not see anything beneath the surface, it's because you are not looking.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is like many of Anderson's past endeavors: The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and The Darjeeling Limited, another tale of a group of misfits centered around the importance of family and what you will do to protect them.

Mr. Fox is fantastic, as are his wife and his children, but being fantastic sometimes isn't enough. Tired of the inertia of daily life, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) steals from the top three farmers in the area in an effort to reclaim some of that, "pure wild animal craziness".

Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) is at a point in her life where she wants a responsible husband to take care of her and her children. She wants no part of his former coop-raiding days and seeks an end to all of his shenanigans. Unfortunately, Mr. Fox does not heed her advice and when Boggis, Bunce and Bean end up poorer for it, they launch an all-out war against Mr. Fox and his family.

George Clooney was perfect casting for Mr. Fox, the suave, sly and often persuasive head of the Fox family who realizing he is reaching up there in years decides to just be what he is - a wild animal. Uncharacteristic to most of Mr. Clooney's roles, however, is the emotional vulnerability he lends to Mr. Fox. Despite the smooth polished exterior he has created, Mr. Fox is not all that different from his introverted son, Ash (Jason Schwartzman), he has failings.

Led by an excellent voice cast headed by Clooney, Streep, Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe and Bill Murray, each character is fleshed out effectively to avoid cardboard cutouts.

Wes Anderson's latest brings back some of the fun of Rushmore that The Darjeeling Limited lacked and it shows. The earth tones used to create the home of the characters evoke a warm, friendly feeling and ground the story in a way that sometimes The Life Aquatic did not. It really is a pleasure to see stop-motion animation revived and done so well.

Funny and warm, Fantastic Mr. Fox could pose a challenge to UP this year for best animated film. It's that good.


19 November 2009

44 Inch Chest Trailer

While the title is suggestive believe me it is safe for work.

Daybreakers PSA

Saint John of Las Vegas Trailer

17 November 2009

Crazy Heart Trailer

16 November 2009

Geek Stuff Roundup: Zombieland Rules to Live By

All solid advice. I just hope I never have to implement any of it.

Leaves of Grass Trailer

15 November 2009

If Movie Posters Used Bad Reviews

This is a funny one:

12 November 2009

Fight Club Midnight Screenings

If you a resident of New York or Los Angeles, you can celebrate the film’s 10th anniversary and its debut on Blu-ray by seeing seeing a free midnight screening on Nov. 17th.

5 Animation Films Up for Oscar

With 20 films being submitted to the Academy for Best Animated Film for the first time since 2001 there will be five contenders for the Oscar (it's not hard to guess which film I believe should win). Of course some of the films submitted are laughable does anyone believe that Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 will really contend? Or Astro Boy for that matter? My predictions for the nominees in orange.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Fox 2000)
Astro Boy (Summit)
Battle for Terra (Lionsgate)
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (Sony Animation)
Coraline (Focus)
“Disney’s A Christmas Carol”
The Dolphin — Story of a Dreamer (20th Century Fox)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (20th Century Fox)
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (20th Century Fox)
Mary & Max (IFC)
The Missing Lynx (Kandor Graphics, YaYa! Films)
Monsters vs. Aliens (DreamWorks Animation)
Planet 51 (Sony)
Ponyo (Disney and Studio Ghibli)
The Princess and the Frog (Disney)
The Secret of Kells (Les Armateurs, Viva Film, Cartoon Saloon, France 2 Cinema)
Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (Disney)
A Town Called Panic (Studio Canal)
Up (Disney/Pixar)

09 November 2009

Review: The Men Who Stare At Goats

The title suggests exactly what it is, this is a film about men, who stare at goats. Grant Heslov's film is more than ample proof that life is truly stranger than fiction.

Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) is a journalist quite happy with his lot in life. He doesn't report big stories in dangerous lands and doesn't foresee that happening for him, that is until he learns of his wife's affair. Then the decision to cover the frontlines of the Iraq War becomes a much more attractive option.

Once in Kuwait, Bob learns that this isn't like covering Vietnam. Things are pretty quiet around the camp. In search of a story Bob comes across Lyn Cassidy (George Clooney) a former special psych-ops solider in the New Earth Army. Bob offers to cover Lyn's story, but is cast off until Lyn decides that people need to know the story of the men who stare at goats.

Through flashbacks we are also presented the creation of the New Earth Army through the eyes of Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) a hippie that after being shot in Vietnam has an epiphany: the gentleness of soldiers is their true strength. By the irony of fate Django gets his program off the ground and implemented.

The Bridges portion of the film is most effective and most entertaining as we are introduced a hippie in the midst of a program that seeks to only train those to kill. The decision to establish psych-ops is perhaps the funniest moment of the film, "Sir, we cannot allow the Russians to create a gap in psych-ops research!" The New Earth Army's amusing adventures are pretty much standard slapstick, but never veers into any substantial material such as other political comedies like Dr. Strangelove.

George Clooney and Jeff Bridges do well with their roles, but Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey really provide nothing in the way of compelling story. It's a shame given the talent both McGregor and Spacey possess, but the material is never really there for them as it is for Clooney and Bridges.

As prestigious as the cast and real-life inspiration behind the film would suggest, The Men Who Stare At Goats is more in line with your typical run of the mill comedy. Then as a surprise, a more serious tone is established by Heslov toward the end of the film. An odd move that seems to undercut everything that happened previously and an ineffective move too. While you may snicker and laugh, once you leave the theatre this is a movie that you will probably never think about ever again.

**1/2 out of ****

Review: The Box

Before I get started, let me get this out of the way. I hate when period pieces use the Benadryl haze to make it appear in the past. Public Enemies and No Country for Old Men both worked as period films without using the crutch of cinematography tricks. There, it had to be said.

Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) are a teacher and NASA employee in Richmond, VA. They don't make a lot of money, but they do what they can with what they have.

They are awoken one morning to find a box sitting on their front stoop. Once it is opened, the box informs them Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) will meet them at 5 p.m. the following evening.

Arlington Steward arrives and his appearance initially frightens Norma because of the massive burns that have erased almost half his face. Steward presents the deal: press the button and two things will happen 1) you will receive a cash sum of $1,000,000 and 2) someone they do not know will die. The deal is only available for twenty-four hours and then he will return to claim the box.

Initially, Arthur assures Norma that the whole deal is a hoax and the joke will be revealed at Norma sister's wedding. When pressed for money after their son's scholarship has been dropped and Arthur's application to become an astronaut is declined, the decision to press the button becomes much more than something to shrug off.

Anyone familiar with Richard Kelly's work (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales) knows that sometimes he veers into the realm of weirdness for only its own sake. But for once the weirdness in The Box makes sense and the film really takes off with the moviegoer gripped in suspense not quite putting it all together.

Frank Langella, while not given the material of another outstanding lead such as Frost/Nixon,
steals the show right out from Diaz and Marsden's feet. He makes this film very compelling for what could have been a throwaway villain.

Richard Kelly is an intriguing auteur because while his ambitions may sink him, you know he will never trot out a G.I. Joe or Transformers film. This film is probably most efficient as a scathing look about morality and the repercussions of greed in America, but it also succeeds as a thinking-man's horror film. With The Box's very split reactions, the film is just about critic-proof, you'll have to see for yourself.

**1/2 out of ****

07 November 2009

The Killer Inside Me Trailer

I never thought this film would actually get made. Let alone, with Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba. Hats off to Casey Affleck.

06 November 2009

The Vault: Working Girl (1988)

Juxtaposed against the cynicism of Wall Street, which was released the year before, Working Girl is an American dream, rags-to-riches Wall Street story.

This movie is a real treat to watch; the writing is superb and the star-studded cast fires on all cylinders.

I give the film 5 out of 5 ungainly shoulder pads.

05 November 2009

Despicable Me Trailer

04 November 2009

The Vault: See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989)

See No Evil, Hear No Evil is an excellent film. The premise is that a blind person and a deaf person get into trouble and need to use each other's strengths to work out their problems.

It's classic comedic stuff that you don't really see anymore. In fact, they didn't make much like this in the 80s; this kind of comedy hasn't been very popular since the 20s and 30s. Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder kill it on every level.

I give the film 5/5 senses.

03 November 2009

Up Deleted Scene

Not a terrible loss for the film, but still fun to watch.