30 June 2012

2012 Thus Far

As we draw nearer to the end of June and consequently the halfway point of the year, what better time to reflect upon some of the highlights of 2012 so far? The list is fairly commercial at this point, curse moving out of the city for summer! Not all of us were able to attend film festivals in Cannes or Sundance, so I cannot speak to what will deliver Oscars, but for moviegoer enjoyment you cannot look past these select films.

Prometheus (You say tomato, I saw good sci-fi/horror)
The Avengers (The Comic Books Gods delivered)
The Grey (A film that captures emotion, visual flourishes and an ace performance from Mr. Neeson)
John Carter (It may not have made a lot of money, but Andrew Stanton created the only real fantasy story of the year)
Haywire (A genre exercise filled with capable actors)
Cabin in the Woods (Horror with a genuine surprise and comic wit. Thanks again, Whedon!)
Hunger Games (Jennifer Lawrence shines again in the woods)
Seeking A Friend for the End of the World (Is its tone a little shifty? Yes, but the world is also ending.)
The Secret World of Arriety (Beautifully hand-drawn film with a touch of humanity)

Missed the Cut: Snow White and the Hunstman, Mirror Mirror, Friends with Kids, Dark Shadows

Notable films not seen: Moonrise Kingdom, The Raid: Redemption, Brave, Bernie.

Not a bad bunch of films. The real test lies in the coming seasons when The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained, Looper, Argo, Skyfall, Lawless, Killing them Softly and The Master take the stage. 2012 is shaping up to be a year in which traditional Oscar-fare will be outshined by genre efforts and auteur-visions. Sounds perfect.

29 June 2012

10 Words or Less: Magic Mike (2012)

All the right moves

28 June 2012

'The Sessions' Trailer Smells Oscar

Guys losing their virginity has been the backbone of countless Hollywood comedies, while the premise is the same, The Sessions is radically different. John Hawkes plays a man confined to an iron lung thanks to a long-ago battle with polio. At 38, he decides it’s time to lose his virginity, and he enlists a free-spirited priest (William H. Macy) and a professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to help.

'12 Years A Slave' Poster Debuts

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Michael K. Williams, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti and Paul Dano. If that cast doesn't sell you on this movie, I don't know what will. Heroin?

27 June 2012

The Greendale Seven Will Return

Online reports are indicating that, yes, all of the cast for NBC's Community will be returning for its fourth season. Chevy Chase's return was in doubt after his much-noted blow-up with Dan Harmon, but apparently he is included on the list of cast members returning for the fall. While Harmon will not be the show runner next season, some sense of continuity will be retained in the cast.

26 June 2012

New 'Dark Knight Rises' Banner Is Fiery

Most would look at the new banner for The Dark Knight Rises and appreciate how good it looks. I, however, cannot help but wonder what Bane is thinking. My first guess is "job well done," either that, or "I hope I didn't leave the tank on the bridge."

For the Movie Fanatic In Your Family

Watching movies on my computer has proven to be difficult. The colors are not always right and the rigid placement of the screen leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, the people at Samsung have brought about this beauty: the Samsung Series 9 SB970 LED monitor. The video is a bit technical, but if you want the best product for watching movies on your computer, check it out.

Each Series 9 SB970 monitor has been individually color calibrated—a meticulous process that only allowed Samsung to produce 50 units per day.  Due to the expert color calibrating process, your movies will display in true-to-life colors straight out of the box. The 27-inch monitor also comes fully equipped with 7 watt stereo speakers and wide quad high-definition display, which is 1.5 times better than HD screen quality. For your viewing convenience, it’s also adorned with an advanced PLS panel that gives you a 178 degree viewing angle and allows for all of your friends to watch a movie at the same time.

The Series 9 SB970 is offered at Best Buy, TigerDirect, Microcenter, and New Egg.

The Vault: Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Charlie (Joseph Cotten) is going back to California to spend some time with his family and to get away from it all. Charlie could only be described as the black sheep of the Newman family; he has a shady past, although no one can quite place their finger on it. Despite his eccentricities, the Newmans welcome him back with open arms, and are surprised with the expensive and lavish gifts that he bestows upon them all. They find it delightful, and odd, but don't give a second thought to it.

However, his niece (also named Charlie, played by Teresa Wright) notices that her uncle is acting strangely. If Charlie thought his behavior would discourage his niece, he thought wrong. Charlie (the niece) investigates an article in the library and puts together the horrible cache of secrets held by her uncle. If hiding a dark secret from her family isn't burdensome enough, some survey-takers ask a great deal of questions about the newcomer to town. These questions predominantly lean toward finding a suspect of several murders.

Shadow of a Doubt's initial mystery lies with what Uncle Charlie's secrets may be, but throughout the rest of the film the drama lies in how it will all end for the Newman clan. Just how far will a person go to defend their family? Blood is thicker than water, but is it thicker than a guilty conscience? Will little Charlie break down under the burden of her uncle's truth, or be broken down? Treat yourself to a Hitchcock classic and find out.

25 June 2012

'The Campaign' Posters Promise To Be More American Than the Others

Trying to ignore the increasingly jingoistic era of modern politics? Well Jay Roach's The Campaign hopes you reconsider. At the end of the day, you wouldn't ignores these puppies? Would you?

23 June 2012

Review: Seeking A Friend for the End of the World

Second chances are a given in this modern age. If you don't like who you are, change. Looking at Charlie Sheen, that number of chances could easily be closer to thirty. The basis of some of the most popular series on television are all about second chances (Breaking Bad and Mad Men). It is never too late to start over. Well, in Dodge's case, not really. In less than three weeks the world will end when an asteroid collides with the Earth. Second chances are now our only chances.

Life has not treated Dodge (Steve Carell) terribly well: his wife couldn't run out on him fast enough when Asteroid Mathilda set sights on Earth, his father left him as a child, and now there is no time to reconcile what he has with what he wanted. Penny (Keira Knightley) has had a similar experience. Her family views her as a "flake" and she has wasted most of her days with boyfriends on a lower spectrum. By sheer luck, she has the letter Dodge has been waiting for his entire life.

With the aid of several passers-by, friends, family, and a cute dog, Dodge and Penny hope to reunite with their loved ones.

Steve Carell has stated in interviews that his recent selection of parts will be defined by how well they reflect the human condition. Nothing is ever completely funny, nor completely melancholy, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a representation of that.

The marketing of the film would have one believe that it is a comedic vehicle for Carell and nothing more. What unfurls is a tale not of how people meet their end, rather, how they should have lived their whole lives.

Carell and Knightley have such great chemistry that one almost forgets that the world is going to end. Even when sharing a few bowls of pasta and a vintage record they are a genuine pleasure to watch. Conversely, it is that much sadder to see them together knowing the time they have is so short. It is a bittersweet moment, but a thoroughly enjoyable one.

Critics have taken Seeking to task for losing focus on actually destroying the world, but that gaze seems short-sighted. Life is less about how it ends than what occurs before opening your eyes for the first time and closing them for the last. Director Lorene Scafaria avoided the pitfall of losing the narrative to appease Armageddon-junkies. In doing so, she may have made of the finer films about the end of the world.

To the last person left, please turn out the lights.


22 June 2012

Your Thoughts on 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'

A lot has been made about critics suggesting that the film makes a mockery of slavery and the Civil War. Love it, hate it, or somewhere in between? Leave your take in the comments below.

20 June 2012

10 Words or Less: Watchmen (2009)

Scariest part of the film? Four-term President Nixon.

19 June 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Attempts Impossible: Making Legislation Interesting

If any moviegoers were curious what the Mayor passed during the eight year period between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, they know now. Also, Batman bad, very very bad.

(Courtesy: CBM)

Cruel Director Releases Another 'Dark Knight Rises' Trailer

Christopher Nolan has decided that fans aren't excited enough for The Dark Knight Rises—despite the fact that some IMAX showings are sold out through August—and another full-length trailer has been released.

New 'Master' Clip Is Hopelessly Inquisitve

With every new snippet of footage from Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, the more excited I become by this film. Between this Django and Killing Them Softly, The Weinstein Company is going to make a killing this fall/winter.

17 June 2012

Play Journey to the Center of Hawthorne

Community fans have not gotten a great deal of good news recently (Dan Harmon's firing, relocating to Friday night), but as thousands of children can tell you, 8-bit games make up for a lot. Journey To The Center Of Hawthorne is now a reality. If that weren't enough to sate your geekiness, playable characters include Brittasaurus Rex and Constable Reggie. Top that, Sonic.

However, the game is still in the demo stages, so take this knowledge with a grain of salt.

15 June 2012

Where Your TDKR IMAX Showing Is

It is almost the release of the conclusion of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, do you know where your Imax theatre is? There's sixty-plus theatres in the county so be sure that you're not getting a false experience. Check out The Geek Twins for the difference between real and fake IMAX.

14 June 2012

Review: Where the Screams Began (Prometheus)

Space. A cold, empty vacuum where an incident occurred many millenniums ago. There are those who believe that human existence is nothing more than an isolated accident and those who feel that it was an act of a higher power. The primary offender of Prometheus is Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace). Shaw refuses to believe that this grand universe is empty and without purpose. In exploring space, she seeks comfort. Whatever the crew of Prometheus will find, it will reconstruct the currently held view of the universe. In leading a crew to explore a planet with signs of intelligent beings, Shaw will test her theory.

Creation has been a running theme in the Alien franchise and one that is opened up for debate more in Ridley Scott's ventures than the other films. Offspring allows man to live on forever. What Scott proposes with Alien and Prometheus is that while immortality gleams with promise and answers soothe all wounds, some things are better left alone. This sentiment is echoed in establishing shots where humans are remarkably small onscreen (the shot of Prometheus outside of L.V. 223 being the most obvious of the shots). Not only are we small, but ultimately, unimportant.

The search for answers has often gone unrewarded in human history and the few answers we do have only initiate more questions. If there is a creator, society would be best served without knowing the intents of the act that resulted in our existence. Vickers and Janek (a capable and lived-in Charlize Theron and Idris Elba) are comfortable in the knowledge they possess. They may be company men (the plight of every crew in the Alien franchise), but they have a fierce determination to live.

Despite the inclinations of most, Weyland Industries ignores those instincts and creates inorganic life. With Shaw and crew chasing the promise of purposeful creation, ironically, when David (Michael Fassbender, phenomenal once again) asks about his creation, the response is a curt “because we could.” Man was created and man created David. That level of ignorance regarding David drives most of the drama in Prometheus. There is a primal sense of danger that lurks beneath David's seemingly docile surface. Whatever Shaw's inner curiosities bring about are multiplied threefold by the resident android of the ship. The relationship between creator and created is a delicate one, and the film is at its best when focusing on that interplay.

The confines of the ship are remarkable. It is difficult to discern where the practical sets end and the computer effects begin. Scott is known for his work with technology and he outdoes himself here. Prometheus doesn't just lend itself to fans of science fiction, but the film's effectiveness in creating dread is enough for most fans of the horror genre to head to theatres as well.

The film's downfalls are typical of the genre that it operates in. Characters are developed quickly and thinly, but the main cast of Fassbender, Rapace, Elba and Theron make more than enough for the consequences to matter to the audience.

Yet where the film really succeeds is in generating questions that last with the viewer long after the credits fade. The majority of viewers may not care for the message, but it will undoubtedly serve as a source of debate.


Listen to The Dark Knight Rises Soundtrack

Getting closer and closer to the release for The Dark Knight Rises and now there is a sample of Hans Zimmer's music for the film to tide us over. Quite a few tracks harken back to Batman Begins, perhaps not a coincidence given that the Dark Knight will come full-circle.

13 June 2012

International 'Django' Trailer

For our European audiences more shooting, more Samuel L. Jackson.

12 June 2012

Geekery at Las Vegas Licensing Expo

The annual Licensing Expo in Las Vegas is back again this year and big projects are on proud display (Jurassic Park 3D, Iron Man 3, A Good Day to Die Hard).

Hit the link below for pics.

It wasn't just banners, posters, and standees, costuming from Man of Steel was available as well. Particularly, the Jor-El suit that Russell Crowe will be wearing for the film. Enjoy!

(Courtesy: Coming Soon)

11 June 2012

How to Be a Cinephile

The folks over at Awards Daily have compiled a list of required viewing for burgeoning cinephiles. The truth of it is becoming a cinephile is usually a complete fluke and maybe nothing more than a genetic accident. Even if one watched 4,000 films, who can say that makes you a cinephile? Still, Sasha Stone has listed a great deal of films from masters of cinema. Here's a peek of the list, the rest is here.

The Essential Stanley Kubrick
Dr. Strangelove
The Shining
Paths of Glory

The Essential Steven Spielberg
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Schindler’s List
The Color Purple

The Essential Martin Scorsese
Taxi Driver
Raging Bull
The King of Comedy

The Essential Hitchcock
Rear Window
North by Northwest

09 June 2012

No Hablo Español, Pero Viggo Mortensen Puede

Apparently it is possible for Viggo Mortensen to be more awesome. Mr. Mortensen is pulling double-duty in Everyone Has A Plan or Todos Tenemos un Plan, by playing twins in the film. Don't dissuade yourself from watching the trailer because of Casa de Mi Padre, I assure you, this is a trailer worth watching.

06 June 2012

Just In Case You Forgot, Quentin Tarantino Is Making A Movie About Slavery

The trailer for Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained was released today and it is filled with all of the dialogue you know and love."Kill white folks and they pay you for it? What's not to like?" Don't ever change Tarantino, don't ever change. For those of you who care to see the trailer on the bigscreen, it will be attached to Prometheus.

Top Five London Musicals

And now for something a little different: Never Mind Pop Film tends not to cover musicals and theatre, so we thought we would venture out a bit. This guest post about top musicals comes from Angelina Lawson.

When it comes to musicals in London, there are a huge selection to choose from. But just like anything else in the world, London has its most popular musicals. According to Box Office Theater, the top 5 London Musicals has sparked years of excitement and conversation.

Les Miserables located at the Queen's Theatre is considered the longest running musical in London.Based around a novel written by Victor Hugo, this London Musical captivates you with melodic tones and rendering movement. This musical isn't for the light-hear ted, it's more for the ones looking to be moved emotionally.

Billy Elliott the musical is housed at the Victoria Palace Theatre and is considered to be one of the greatest dance and song show. Even though Elton John is the creator of the music, this musical itself is what makes for a memorable evening.
The Phantom of the Opera is and will more than likely be one of the greatest London Musicals of all time. Showcasing at Her Majesty's Theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber's creative form produced a masterpiece that will forever be famous.
Chicago plays at the Cambridge Theatre and is based on the earlier eras of Chicago. This musical is considered to be more dark, more moving. Based on the character Roxie Hart; the musical tells a story on how she murders her lover.Even though this musical isn't really for the younger crowd, it is definitely for the more mature crowd.
Jersey Boys is a London Musical that is based around a popular group by the name of "The Four Seasons." Housed at the Prince Edwards Theatre, this musical still has been known to take breaths away. Performing some of the most popular songs to date, "Big Girls Don't Cry" and " My eyes Adored You," this musical stands as one of the top 5 London Musicals.

When it comes to the top 5 London Musicals, you will definitely find that there are many to choose from. But the most popular musicals will always be the ones that leave you talking and leave you moved. All of these musicals have played for over 24 years and they are still the all-time favorite’s of many.

'Community' Directors May Head Cap Sequel

Community may not have received the greatest news in the last couple of weeks, but Anthony and Joe Russo look like they may be heading up the next Captain America film. According to THR, The screenwriters of Captain America: The First Avenger, Chris Markus and Stephen McFeely are returning to plot out the script.

Now, the Russos are not anyone's first thought for a blockbuster, but then again, neither were Jon Favreau nor Kenneth Branagh. Success for these Marvel properties is a question of enthusiasm for the material and it is hard to imagine any candidates could have more enthusiasm for the material than the Russos. As for the lack of action gravitas, watch A Fistful of Paintballs and For a Few Paintballs More. Exquisite.

'Flight' Trailer Features Serious Denzel

It's nice to see Robert Zemeckis dealing with live-action again. It is also nice to see a Fallen reunion with Washington and John Goodman. Whether this remains commercial fare or an Oscars contender will have to be seen when the film is released on November 2nd.

05 June 2012

Win 'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island'

Warner Bros. and PartnersHub are hosting another DVD giveaway and this time a copy of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is up for grabs. Play the game and leave your "would you survive" score in a comment below to be entered. The lucky winner with the highest score will take the DVD home.

Contest ends on June 18th: open to U.S. residents only.

04 June 2012

The End is Nigh

... at least for Breaking Bad anyway. The first eight episodes of the series' fifth and final season debuts July 15th. The man known as Heisenberg is resting comfortably atop his throne, but how much longer can it last? Walt has broken bad and it's not hard to see him dead or in prison before Breaking Bad concludes.

01 June 2012

'Prometheus' IMAX Poster

Today has been a good day for geeks: an exclusive IMAX poster will be given out to midnight showing attendees for Prometheus. If you attend the 12:01 IMAX showings next Friday morning, you'll get to go home with one of these bad boys.

(Courtesy: Collider)

Review: Once Upon A Time (Snow White and the Huntsman)

The story of Snow White is quite familiar to audiences: a fair-skinned princess is forced to fend for herself and her kingdom after the untimely death of the King and Queen. A huntsman is hired by the wicked usurper to kill the young maiden and she retreats to the forest. What lends initial promise to Rupert Sanders Snow White and the Huntsman is that the pieces of the story are thrown at the wall from the very beginning.

Ravenna (Charlize Theron) is much more than a witch who longs for the power of a Kingdom. Gaining the trust of the King, Ravenna poses as victim of a kidnapping. Once inside the hallowed walls of King Magnus' home, she violently overthrows the monarchy. Hours after a wedding ceremony, Ravenna takes her revenge on the more arrogant sex in the most intimate way. Her crazed rantings about the evils of entitlement suggests that Huntsman really could go somewhere rather than take the formulaic path of fable. Locked in the innards of the castle, Snow (Kristen Stewart) has been plotting her escape for years and, when given her chance, she takes it. Into the fearsome forest she goes.

Dozens of young girls have died to feed the evil Queen's addiction to youth, but only the heart of Snow White will sate Ravenna's thirst. She hires a drunken widower (under-utilized Chris Hemsworth) who serves all masters with his trade. Only he will enter the dangerous forest that Snow has escaped to.

A lush film visually, the gothic sets and cinematography suggests that Snow White and the Huntsman is a much better product than it actually is. For all of the differing takes that Sander's film takes, the story comes back to what has been seen before time and time again. When Hemsworth's Huntsman tries to teach Snow how to kill her opponent, she balks at his suggestion. Sixty minutes later she is aping Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, slashing, hacking and dismembering anyone who gets in her way of killing the Queen. Other distractions seem thrown in just for measure like a love triangle that no one would seriously debate over (Chris Hemsworth > Sam Claflin).

I suppose the problem with Huntsman is that the most entertaining aspect of the film is Ravenna herself. Theron is monstrously entertaining as she yearns for immortality. The writing is lesser but she revels in each bellow and gives this film a villain that it really doesn't deserve.


Edgar Wright Is A Brilliant, Brilliant Man

Edgar Wright is a very popular man amongst his legion of geeks, nerds, and other pop-culture aficionados. One of those reasons being that Mr. Wright is a certified master of easter eggsScott Pilgrim vs. the World is entirely made up of them. Yet the ode to the English auteur's brilliance takes place in Shaun of the Dead. This throwaway line Ed shares with Shaun at the pub “a bloody Mary first thing, a bite at the King’s Head, couple at The Little Princess, stagger back here and bang… back at the bar for shots.” 

Not much to ponder for a viewer seeing a film for the first time, but think about how the film unfolds after that. Shaun and Ed kill a zombie named Mary. They then go to Shaun’s stepfather’s place to find out he’s been bitten. Off to rescue Liz (Shaun's love interest) at her flat and then the group pretends to be zombies and infiltrate The Winchester where they fend off zombies with a rifle.

The entire film is described in one line. Brilliant.