27 June 2010

The Social Network Teaser

Can't make a whole lot from David Fincher's upcoming film with the teaser so far, but it has a very ominous tone to it. My interest in the project was tepid until I found out Aaron Sorkin was writing the script and Fincher was directing, finding out Eisenburg would be the lead was icing on the cake. Let us hope that it does not end up a cookie cutter downfall movie.

26 June 2010


David Fincher's works are never short on splendor captured on celluloid, but Zodiac, easily one of the best shot films of the decade, really takes the cake with its masterful cinematography by Harris Savides.

Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is in the basement of a man who he believes can lead him to the Zodiac, little does he know that the man whose basement he's in could be the Zodiac himself. Fear hasn't translated this easily to an audience since Lila Crane was trapped in the home of Norman Bates, with his mother barreling down on her in a corridor she can't run out of.

This is just one of several moments that hold you in a vice-like grip. Perhaps Fight Club should look over its shoulder as the best of Fincher's filmmography.

24 June 2010

Most Valuable Performances: Tom Cruise

The quintessential good guy: Top Gun, Mission Impossible, The Last Samurai, A Few Good Men, I could go on but I'm sure you get the point. That is what made the transformation he undertook in Collateral all the more intriguing. Tom Cruise is a hell of a villain.

"I just shot him. The bullets and the fall killed him." Never were words uttered by a contract killer offered so smoothly. Cruise doesn't look radically altered in this film, but he might as well be an entirely different human being. Vincent's eyes say a lot more about the man than the film ever mentions. He is cool, calm, collected and charismatic. While he is holding Max (Jamie Foxx) hostage he is helping him retake his life before missed opportunities do him in for good.

Sleight of hand is Vincent's trade, he kills with the best and feels no remorse for the deed. It makes it that much more interesting when he scolds Vincent for not buying his mother flowers at the hospital, "She carried you in her womb for nine months."

A nihilist whose final offering echoes the sentiments of life at the beginning of Mann's best effort of the decade. In a city that is so disconnected who will notice the dead man circling the Los Angeles subway system?

23 June 2010

Ant-man Finally Casted?

It looks like Nathan Fillion might be playing a superhero afterall. After being considered for roles in Green Lantern, and Captain America, Fillion (most remembered as Malcolm Reynolds in the cult-hit Firefly) is reportedly in final negotiations to play Dr. Hank Pym in the new Avengers film. It hasn't been stated whether Pym would be Ant-man in the film, or just a S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist, but we're holding out hope.

The Avengers hits theatres in 2012.

21 June 2010

Review: Toy Story 3

We all knew it had to end eventually. It's been eleven years since Toy Story 2 waltzed into theatres and managed to captivate me again as a small child on a Thanksgiving weekend wishing that the sequel would be as good as the first. Now, 20 years old, I could only hope that this final installation in the series could strike me as it did so many times before.

Toy Story 3 centers on the plight of the toys this time, leaving Andy out of the focus past the initial twenty minutes. Given the choice between the attic, trash or donation Andy says goodbye to Buzz, Rex, Slinky, Jesse, Bullseye, and Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and bags them up for the attic, Woody manages to land in the box of college items. The bag manages to find its way to the garbage truck instead and only by Buzz's quick thinking they manage to escape back to the house. Feeling left out they decide that Sunnyside Daycare is the only way to go. Andy will never play with them again and maybe this way they will feel appreciated.

Worry not as Toy Story 3 is the final conclusion that we were all waiting for. Trilogies rarely end as well—with the exception of the Lord of the Rings series). Pixar has yet to lead moviegoers astray and judging the quality of the films put out recently Ratatouille, WALL-E, UP, they never will. The film gets more harrowing as it continues and one wonders whether or not the crew will make it out of this adventure alive. Those familiar with a particular heart-breaking scene in UP will recognize the same pang of sadness and fear that Pixar isn't afraid to steer toward.

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen nails their respective roles as Woody and Buzz. Woody, always the righteous leader of the group does them right in the end, and Buzz keeps it light when he finds himself in Spanish mode.

Newcomer to the series, Michael Keaton, steals the show as Ken doll (I never thought that one day Batman would manage to capture the essence of a Mattel plaything). As for the 3-D it looked very nice during the short film Night and Day, but its effect was negligible during Toy Story 3.

Aging along with this trilogy has provided an unique look at Andy and growing up. With time childish things have to be put away, but the responsibility of what to do with those playthings is what makes you an adult. Coming of age films have come and gone, but none have so successfully made letting go of others and growing up look so beautiful.

***1/2 out of ****

20 June 2010

Rango Trailer

These quirky animated films really bring a smile to my face. I hope this is as much fun as Fantastic Mr. Fox proved to be. Plus Timothy Olyphant is 'the spirit of the west', perfect casting.

16 June 2010

Middle Men Trailer

Luke Wilson in something besides AT&T commercials is heart-warming. He always seemed to get the shaft when it came to doing projects with Owen and maybe Luke's career will take off again.

13 June 2010

Review: The A-Team

Mercenaries are becoming the "it" theme of this summer with The Losers hitting theatres a few months ago, The A-Team coming out this weekend and The Expendables expected out August 13th. A few Hollywood producers must have received Soldier of Fortune in their mailboxes by accident.

Ten years ago, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... the A-Team.

That opening is familiar enough to fans of the television show, but director Joe Carnahan starts from scratch, throwing Hannibal, Face, Murdock and Baracus together during an operation in Mexico.

These soldiers of fortune are a little different from how you remember them. Hannibal (Liam Neeson) is less funny and more like Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen, but he still loves it when a plan comes together. Face (Bradley Cooper) gets his hands a little more dirty in this incarnation of the character, but that is to be expected with a film from Joe Carnahan (NarcSmokin' Aces). District 9 star Sharlto Copley is Mad Murdock (yes, he's still crazy and funny) and Quinton Jackson fills in admirably for Mr. T as B.A. Baracus.

The A-Team is similar to the Shaft re-imagining of 2000. It is a entertaining actioner that provides fun with set pieces, although those scenes come at the expense of the character development that endeared itself to fans of the original television series.

The frenetic pacing of the action scenes make it hard for the audience to focus between the extreme close-ups of the team and the the explosion that take course throughout the film. A noticeable trend that seems to keep taking place this summer is this over-use of CGI. It was noticeable in Iron Man 2 and is hard to ignore in a few key scenes in A-Team.

An entertaining way to fill a few hours, Cooper, Neeson and Copley are really having fun with their roles and you can tell. The three of them have a great deal of chemistry, a franchise could easily be had if the film does well enough at the box office.

Stay after the credits and look out for a cool cameo by a certain AMC mainstay.

**1/2 out of ****

11 June 2010

The Dream Is Real

For my money there is nothing cooler than the idea of a city folding in on itself.

08 June 2010

AM's Greatest Comedy Tournament

Castor and Red over at Anomalous Material are hosting the Greatest Comedy Tournament today and the contest goes throughout the summer. So get out and vote!

What Does Marcellus Wallace Look Like?

The Oatmeal - a great way to waste an hour online by the way -  brings you this funny Pulp Fiction poster.

07 June 2010

Review: The Special Relationship

The Special Relationship is an important dynamic in world politics. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, Macmillan and Kennedy, Clinton and Blair, and perhaps most influential Tony Blair and George W. Bush.

Michael Sheen, now on his third take playing former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has his role down pat. When the camera starts rolling all trace of Sheen is gone. Only Blair's perma-grin and inclination to always do right remains. Like Frank Langella in Peter Morgan's other effort Frost/Nixon, Dennis Quaid doesn't particularly look like the former president he is portraying, but nails the attitude - and even the accent.

Tony Blair is in awe of Bill Clinton at the beginning of the film, a candidate for Prime Minister he seeks the backing that President Clinton has made for himself in the United States, a foundation built on center-left policies. Clinton advises the young candidate that while policies are important, the image is where your future lies (foreshadowing at its best). The two get on quite well, sometimes to the playful belittling of Blair's wife Cherie (Helen McCrory who reprises her role from The Queen). All of this changes when the Lewinsky scandal comes to light.

Now this portion of the film is where Hope Davis dashes the carpet under the feet of her co-stars. Davis, who without the aid of a second glance would almost assume is the former first lady, really shines during the Lewinsky portion of the film. It could have been a weepy, woe-is-me performance but Davis gives it the resilience that Hillary Clinton is best known for.

Blair's friendship comes crucially to President Clinton at his time in need and all is made well. Their friendship is put to the test again, however, when military intervention in Kosovo is suggested only to be slapped down by NATO and President Clinton. My biggest complaint with the film is its blow-by-you runtime of only 93 minutes. More could have been made of the Kosovo conflict between the two world leaders, but the resolution feels rushed and the film suffers for it.

**1/2 out of ****

04 June 2010

'A-Team' TV Spots

My interest in The A-Team was tepid at best, previous to the extended tv spots FOX put out, but this sneak peek has me interested now.

01 June 2010

Most Valuable Performances: Robert Downey Jr.

"Never go full retard." These immortal words are uttered by Kirk Lazarus as he sends up method acting in an effort to explain it to his talent-challenged co-star Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller).

After the monumental success of Iron Man Downey simply could have coasted off the success of that franchise and waited for the Oscar bait to come. What no one expected following the comic book success was Downey donning black-face and turning in one of the best comedic performances of the decade. He was justly rewarded with an Academy Award nomination, unfortunately he was going up against Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight.

Regardless of who went home with the trophy Oscar night Downey solidified his status as an actor unafraid to seek roles outside the norm. What's most remarkable about the portrayal is that at no point during the film did the concept seem offensive at all. Lazarus's borderline obsessive devotion to his craft is sent up so well we forget that it's Iron Man, Charlie Chaplin and countless others under that make-up. At that point the only Thunder in the film belonged to Downey.