30 October 2011

'The Dark Knight Rises' Set Photo

I'm guessing Mr. Wayne (Christian Bale) won't be talking his way out of a ticket in The Dark Knight Rises thanks to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's beat-cop John Blake. Another nit-picky comment: is Batman going American Psycho? His hair is almost exactly the same.

(Courtesy: The Daily Mail)

First Synopsis for 'The Place Beyond the Pines'

Ryan Gosling and Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance are reuniting for The Place Beyond the Pines. The film is in post-production and has no release date or distributor as of yet. The film stars Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Ray Liotta and Rose Byrne.

Luke (Gosling) is a professional motorcycle rider who turns to bank robberies to support his newborn son, but when he crosses paths with a rookie police officer (Cooper) their violent confrontation spirals into a tense generational fued. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES is a rich dramatic thriller that traces the intersecting lives of fathers and sons, cops and robbers, heroes and villain.

28 October 2011

Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene


When we meet Martha (Elizabeth Olsen), she has just escaped a commune she had been living at for two years. She looks lost at this little shopping plaza and the phone call she makes to her sister sounds like it could be under duress. Martha has never gotten along with Lucy (Sarah Paulson), which makes asking to stay with her and her husband (Hugh Dancy) at their new vacation home all the more complicated.


Patrick (John Hawkes) invites these women to his farm where he preaches the benefits of communal living and getting back to basics. Patrick is knowledgeable  he plays the guitar and charming when he wants to be. He convinces her that she has infinitely more value on the farm. He convinces Elizabeth that instead of the wandering spirit she believed herself to be, she is a teacher and a leader.

Of course the payment comes later, it always does. The benefits of communal living are swiftly replaced with the total awareness fear brings to living. With that, Patrick's demeanor also shifts quickly and terrifyingly. John Hawkes has always been known as a character actor, but his last two performances (including the superb Winter's Bone) have put him in an upper echelon of fearsome actors.


Following her time at the farm, Martha can't assimilate back into life. Living in a commune has soured her on wealth and extravagance. Ted's job allows he and Lucy to have very nice things and it puts them at odds with helping Martha get out of her own mind. With Martha seemingly raging against the world, her return to the Catskills seems inevitable.

Martha Marcy May Marlene blends dream with reality in a way that few films can. The editing elegantly moves from her time at the farm, to her escape and back and forth and everywhere in between. Scenes where Martha spends time at Lucy and Ted's vacation home lull her and the viewer into a false sense of security. Here she is safe, until Martha loses the ability to separate dreams from reality and haunting memories of her past keep resurfacing.

Elizabeth Olsen shines in her first big role, an important note given how dependent MMMM is on her performance. A sustained portrayal of fear and paranoia can often become laughable if done incorrectly, but Olsen makes it credible. Every window she passes and every sound she hears in the house is a tribute to the lasting fear she lives with and never knowing when they may come for her again.

***/****

Your Thoughts on 'In Time'

Sexy Back takes on Pete Campbell in In Time. Love it, hate it, or somewhere in between? Leave your take in the comments below.

25 October 2011

New 'Dragon Tattoo' Poster


The muted tones of the latest posters are interesting, but could we get some color? Maybe even the trademark Fincher yellow?

(Courtesy: Imp Awards)

24 October 2011

'Hugo' Poster Points to 'Safety Last'


Visual references to classics are not uncommon, but how often do you see a nod to Harold Lloyd's classic Safety Last? I love it.

21 October 2011

Review: The Skin I Live In

There are a small subset of auteurs left in cinema, but without a doubt, Pedro Almodóvar is the most unique. Issues like incest, murder, adultery are all freely found in his filmography. He operates without any boundaries and, whether you always enjoy his films or not, it is always an experience.

Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) is first introduced speaking to a group of his contemporaries. Intersplicing Robert's speech with shots of a woman who appears to be held captive. Dr. Ledgard is preaching the advances of a synthetic skin he has created, it is resistant to cuts, burns and scratches. He would like to advance to human testing, but the scientific community pulls back. Robert has gone too far, maybe he should consider returning to surgery.

Robert, feeling dejected, returns home and scampers up the stairs to his room. There, we see a glowing television screen featuring the same woman we saw before. Robert eyes her intently, but his intensity could be taken for love or madness. What is she doing there? How long has she been there? The more we come to know about Vera (Elana Anaya), the more questions pop up.

Marilia, the housekeeper (Maris Paredes) who knows Robert better than he knows himself, has her own secrets she keeps.

Secrets are a running theme in Skin and each answer pieces together an unexpected fold. It is uncommon during a film to be unsettled the more information is presented, yet this is the case. Robert has more than his fair share of demons and, if suspense is to be preserved, you should see them for yourself onscreen.

If a modern day Frankenstein is something that you find intoxicating, then Antonio Banderas' turn as Robert will at times frighten and astound you. Elana Anaya is equally captivating as Vera, every quiver and furtive glance a revelation into a character whom we know so little about.

Almodóvar drops many provoking questions into the film without making any effort to address them later. It is not his mission to analyze these thoughts, rather to craft a melodrama that aims for the stomach instead of the mind.

Sexuality lingers throughout this perverse tale and really there is no one better to ask what turns you on than Almodóvar. Some will be offended, some will be riveted and all will be sitting on the edge wondering what will happen next.

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

No 'Shame' In NC-17

Fox Searchlight has decided to take down the stigma attached to the NC-17 rating. Presidents Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley are planning a full push for Best Actor, Picture, and Supporting Actress, Cinematography and Original Screenplay.

"I think NC-17 is a badge of honor, not a scarlet letter. We believe it is time for the rating to become usable in a serious manner," says Gilula. "The sheer talent of the actors and the vision of the filmmaker are extraordinary. It's not a film that everyone will take easily, but it certainly breaks through the clutter and is distinctive and original. It's a game changer."

A film with such strong word-of-mouth will definitely see some benefits during the awards season, but will they manage to keep older voters in the seats? Only time will tell.

(Courtesy: THR)

The Vault: Oldboy (2003)

Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) has been held prisoner for fifteen years. He knows nothing of why he is there, or for how much longer his imprisonment will continue. He marks his time with scratches on the walls. At the beginning of the film Dae-su makes a fool of himself. Soused to the gills with booze and absent from his daughter's birthday party. This is not the man we meet after his surprise release. His fists are hardened from punching walls every day. He has lost the pouch of fat his stomach grew accustomed to. He is hateful. His confinement has honed him into a killer.

Mido (Gang Hye-Jung) is a chef Dae-su recognizes from the television that was his life in prison. She watches him eat raw squid as if he had a vendetta against the poor creature. Mido senses a great pain in him and offers her residence as a place to care for him. They take comfort in each other and she aids him in his search for truth.

A shadowy third figure draws into the fold and tells Dae-su that he is merely a pawn in a much larger game. The game itself seems simple: figure out why he was imprisoned within five days and his kidnapper will kill himself, if not, Mido will die.

The improbability of what is revealed later is such a shock to the system that one is quite reasonable in their impulse to shut off the film. Revenge is a messy and often horrifying pursuit. It seldom reaches an end and destroys everything. However, when your film takes Greek tragedies like Oedipus and Thyestes and makes them look like child's play, you may claim the position as King of sadomasochism.

Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood illuminated relationships and how they temper the baser urges that pit humans against one another. It seems Oldboy suggests that relationships are only for inflicting further punishment on each other. Such extremes in violence and sexuality are rarely played out anymore and Chan-wook Park is one of the few directors that revel in this heightened land of excess.

Park is quite adept at the stylings of dialogue and action, but there are times when he needed to learn when to control that impulse as well. The problem with Oldboy is that when you make a B-movie with A-money, you need to be self-aware of the camp that comes along with it.

20 October 2011

'Anonymous' Now a Limited Release

What should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, Anonymous is being shifted by Sony from a wide release to just 250 theatres. Originally the film was due to be released in thousands of theatres next week, but poor surveying data gave Sony the jitters. I'm not quite sure what they expected, a thriller about the origins of Shakespeare's works just doesn't get that kind of release. Especially one directed by Roland Emmerich.

(Courtesy: L.A. Times)

19 October 2011

'Dark Knight Rises' Prologue with 'Mission Impossible'

Much like in 2007 when the opening scene of The Dark Knight was attached to I Am Legend Warner Bros. has decided to do so again. But without one of their releases in IMAX this year the prologue of 'Rises' will be attached to Brad Bird's upcoming Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Mission: Impossible is opening exclusively in IMAX on December 16th. So get those tickets ready.

(Courtesy: /Film)

17 October 2011

New 'Descendants' Trailer



Who knew people in Hawaii had it so rough? Especially a guy like George Clooney. That said, I hope this is more like Sideways than About Schmidt.


16 October 2011

NerdJerk


As a prize for winning Man, I Love Film's Cinematic Captions contest I received a handstitched Bob-Omb from NerdJerk. I have to say I really quite enjoy peeking over at it from my writing. Such an unabashed geek. Thanks again, guys!

14 October 2011

The Vault: The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter is best known for his cult-hit Halloween more than anything else. That's a shame considering his excellent work in Starman and the sci-fi classic The Thing.

At a remote outpost in Antarctica a dog is running through the snow. Chasing it is a helicopter with a Norwegian crew inside armed with rifles. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and the rest of the crew don't know what to make of it until one of the Nordics shoots one of the crew members. He gets put down and everyone wonders what the hell just happened.

Eventually it becomes clear that what got to the Norwegian camp has infiltrated the U.S. station. A parasite that is able to completely pass itself off as anyone and anything: dogs, horses, vultures and most frightening, humans. It is insatiable and we have no idea what it is.

No one is above reproach. Nothing is coincidental and everyone is suspect. As the crew begins to turn on one another the stakes are raised and suddenly it seems like no one will get out of this place alive.

What makes The Thing so much better than the 2011 film starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton is the fact that it utilizes no computer generated effects whatsoever. Nauseating scenes are created by the hard work of craftsmen. Scares are organic and frequent. Rent or borrow the original instead.

'Shame' Trailer



I will be ignoring all trailers and t.v. spots for this until after I see Shame in theatres.

12 October 2011

'Albert Nobbs' Trailer


Did anyone else know that Glenn Close wrote the script? Anyway, the real focus will be on the acting clash of the titans showdown between Close and Streep (The Iron Lady) this winter.

11 October 2011

'My Week with Marilyn' Trailer


Michelle Williams is quite an actress, but it remains to be seen if she can pull off the va-va-voom of Marilyn Monroe.


'Hugo' Previews Deemed a Success

Well it looks like you can add one more contender to the Best Picture race. Martin Scorsese's unfinished cut of Hugo debuted at the New York Film Festival last night and a majority of the reactions are positive. By the way can we just declare Martin Scorsese a national treasure? It seems about time.

Scorsese delivers cinephile's wet dream with costly 3-D  at . Lead kid + first half are stiff, but it shifts into gear by finale. - Anne Thompson
: Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ Is An Enthralling Dose of Film History From Cinema’s Greatest Admirer - The Film Stage

09 October 2011

Review: Ides of March

Stephen (Ryan Gosling) is a hot-shot; he can sweep a room like a man twice his age. He is second-in-command for the Presidential campaign of Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney). Morris is momentarily leading Senator Pullman in the Ohio primary - which would mean nothing for most people - but for politicians as Ohio goes so goes the country. The Republicans have no one that poses a serious threat; the driver's seat is his.

Steven isn't an idealist, he knows he has a winner in Morris, he just has to convince everyone else he is right. Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) is just as positive that he's right. Sure Morris is a good candidate, but the GOP is afraid of him. They will cross lines and vote against him in the primary to make sure he doesn't advance. Steven has a choice: face going back to a consulting firm, or jump ship and work for a president.

There is a particular scene during the film where Morris is reminding a crowd why he should be the man in charge of the country with a gigantic flag in the background. Behind him is his senior adviser Paul (a quietly stunning Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Steven. Politics is all about what is going on behind the curtain. The rhetoric gets you elected, but the unseen cogs are the ones actually running the world. In a world like that it is nearly impossible to remain ethically clean. Kool-aid is dangerous. Once you drink it you lose touch with reality. The hype becomes you and then everything you do is handled on a sliding scale of morality.

What gives me pause about Ides is that we already know all of this. In the heyday of the political films revealing crooks and the corrupted for who they really were, people were surprised. That is not the case today. Though several scenes with the characters drenched in shadow is a subtle, yet appreciated nod to films like All the President's Men.

Steven's price to pay in the film seems excessive considering the innocence of his mistake. Far more devious performers are all around him, but they are practiced in deceit. Steven may not be idealistic, but he is certainly naive.

What does elevate Ides above other films of its genre is how dark it is willing to go. What we found out about our main players is far worse than your regular scandal. Morris's demeanor while with his wife is sickeningly contrasted with a facade during a speech at the funeral of a campaign staffer.

Gosling turns in another excellent portrayal this year. I don't know if he can sneak into a very crowded lead actor field, but with the exception of Levitt in 50/50, few performances are as affecting as his. Watching a man go from unparalleled highs to a spectacular fall with only his eyes to betray him. A slow fuse waiting to explode.

***/****

08 October 2011

Review: 50/50

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has it all... well almost. He has a girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) who dabbles in the art world. He has a respected position at Seattle Public Radio. He also has a very tightly-wound mother (Anjelica Huston) and a father with Alzheimer's Disease.

Adam, to his dismay, also has cancer.

His mind races, "How could I have cancer? I don't drink... I recycle." You never see Adam so much as keep a library book overdue, so the concept of having a rare cancer at the age of 27 is completely mind-blowing.

Fortunately, he has laid-back pal, Kyle (Seth Rogen) who reminds him that 50/50 odds is better than any casino game. However, Kyle is no angel, he also uses Adam's situation to occasionally get a number from a hot girl.

50/50 is a straight-shooting comedy. It may not benefit from its marketing, but everything in the film rings true. Nothing is manipulative, nor out of place. When someone is diagnosed with cancer the first thing to do isn't reserve tickets for the Alps and make radical life changes, you try to figure out how to keep the pieces together. At the end of the day you also find out who your real friends are.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt may not receive any awards this season for his performance as Adam, but that misses the point. There are few actors who can completely embody the anger, frustration and depression of facing your own mortality like this, but for those who can (like Levitt) those actors are worth their weight in gold. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a bright future as part of the next generation of leading men.

Seth Rogen, you either like him, or you don't and I do. Anna Kendrick may be treading some of the same waters from Up in the Air, but her performance as Adam's therapist is another gem. Some may say that Bryce Dallas Howard is a caricature of the "bitch girlfriend," but guess what? They are out there. It just goes to show that some people are not there for you in the long run.

Don't go into 50/50 expecting a morbid downer. This is an even mix of humor and heart-break, just like life. It just feels good. Finally, a realistic look at living with cancer. I don't know why it took a comedy to do it, but now we have it.

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

07 October 2011

'Shame' Poster


Very minimalist, yet it conveys everything it needs to say, just like the title. Keeping my fingers crossed this hits Reno before January.

(Courtesy: Fox Searchlight)

'J. Edgar' Poster Revels in Red, White & Blue


Maybe the most corrupt man in the world, but, let's not split hairs. I hope Eastwood's film doesn't try to glorify the man.

06 October 2011

'Young Adult' Trailer



The first look at Jason Reitman's second collaboration with Diablo Cody. The trademark snark associated with Cody seems readily available; I hope audiences don't expect this to be anything like Juno.

03 October 2011

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept


I have a hard time imagining doing this without dying.