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Showing posts from December, 2012

Review: A Long Journey (The Hobbit)

The Hobbit saw a great deal of turmoil cast its way before the first reel was ever shown. MGM went bankrupt, Guillermo Del Toro dropped out of the project and if all of that weren't bad enough, the first buzz about the film was that the high frame rate made it look like an afternoon soap.

Peter Jackson was always going to have a difficult time bringing another of J.R.R. Tolkien's books to life, given the enviable success he had with Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit is considered to be the lighter of the two stories and when Jackson announced that he was going to extend the story into a trilogy, sighs could be heard "he's doing it again."

The story is familiar enough: a hobbit is asked by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to undertake a journey that could prove dangerous. Bilbo may survive, Gandalf contends, but he will never be the same. Thorin Oakenshield and the remaining members of his clan aim to reclaim their kingdom from the dragon Smaug that ravaged their homel…

Review: Django Grabbed His Gun (Django Unchained)

Eight directorial outings into his filmography, Quentin Tarantino has become his own genre. Riffing on gangster films, Asian cinema, war flicks, and with Django Unchained, the Western. The Western is perhaps the most sacred film to most Americans as its inception unfolded in the U.S. It seems fitting that Tarantino should try to rip the band-aid off of America's great shame in a Western.

With all of that said, all the anxiety punctuated by talk of race is swept aside quickly and efficiently. This is not a dissection of slavery, it is a tale of the lengths one man will go to save his wife. Django (Jamie Foxx, exemplifying the words on Jules Winnfield's wallet) is freed by a German bounty hunter on the hunt for the Brittle Brothers.

Only Django has seen these men's faces and Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) offers him a deal: help him find the brothers and he will help Django find Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Schultz teaches Django the tools of the trade and he picks it…

Review: Kentucky Fried Camp (Killer Joe)

In all of the folklore presented in cinema there have been many black hats. Evil men possessed by some spirit to cause harm to others, sometimes for money, sometimes for fun. One of the first black hats that comes immediately to mind is Henry Fonda in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. Stunt casting in the truest sense of the word, Fonda shocked audiences in how indiscriminately he mowed down innocents.

I mention Henry Fonda's casting in that film because it so similarly matches Matthew McConaughey as the titular Killer Joe. For years McConaughey was the charming young man who was a staple of romantic comedies, here, he possesses a terrifying formality. Joe is hired to kill people. The good looking man seen so many times before lulls you in right before the trap snaps shut on you. It's the beauty of his casting, the smile is still there, but it hides a vicious streak.

Chris (Emile Hirsch) is a career screw-up, his best prospects came in the form of cocaine that …

2012 Nevada Film Critics Society Awards

The Nevada Film Critics Society announced their selections for best in film of 2012. A nice mix of films are all represented as are a few of my own favorites from the year.

Film - Argo
Actor - John Hawkes (The Sessions)
Actress - TIE - Helen Hunt (The Sessions) and Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Supporting Actor - Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
Supporting Actress - Sally Field (Lincoln)
Youth Performance - Tom Holland (The Impossible)
Director - TIE - Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
Ensemble Cast - Lincoln
Animated Movie - Frankenweenie
Production Design - Les Miserables
Cinematography - Life Of Pi
Visual Effects - Life Of Pi

Pegg Tweets First Look at 'The World's End'

Courtesy of Simon Pegg's twitter page, we now have out first look at the recently wrapped The World's End, the final installment of Edgar Wright's Blood & Cornetto trilogy. Judging from how the leads are dressed, Pegg is either playing a guy down on his luck, or a Chris Angel enthusiast. It's hard to say.

Review: Hitch and His Ladies (Hitchcock)

Retirement is rapping at Alfred Hitchcock's (Anthony Hopkins) door and he is becoming acutely aware of it. North by Northwest has done smashingly well, yet Hitch is unsatisfied. Critics have him down to a T, he will never make another film as good as Lifeboat or The 39 Steps, they say. Maybe he should just call it quits.
Inspiration soon strikes him in the form of Ed Gein, the notorious killer from Wisconsin, whose exploits have turned into a scandalous new novel. The likes of which Hitch thinks he can make a great horror film with. The problem with that is Hitch is trying to make that film in 1960s America. Moral codes and overly cranky members of ratings board are going to make it nearly impossible for the infamous shower scene to be made. With Paramount also holding that tidy bit of information, it will be difficult for the Mr. Hitchcock to get the picture off the ground.
Still, Hitch has his wife Alma (the always wonderful Helen Mirren) in his corner. That is until he puts th…

Hit Me With Your Best Shot #9

The game where I throw out one of cinema's more obscure quotes and you try to guess it. Readers are currently 4 for 8 . Let's see if you can name the film this quote is from.
"What is this “Hump a Limey Week” suddenly? Otto doesn’t approve. Otto might get jealous."

Warner Bros. Holiday Giveaway

Warner Bros. and PartnersHub is hosting one last giveaway before the end of the year. You could win a Blu-ray Combo Pack of Magic Mike or The Dark Knight Rises (prize will be chosen randomly from the above titles!)
All you need to do is leave a comment below and one winner will be chosen at random. Contest ends December 19th, U.S residents only, please. Good luck!

Where to See Extended 'Star Trek' Previews

If you are not sure where to find the IMAX extended previews of Star Trek Into Darkness, then this list should prove fruitful to your endeavors.

AlabamaCarmike Patton Creek 16; IMAX, HooverCobb Hollywood 16; IMAX, Tuscaloosa
AlaskaRegal Tikahtnu Commons Stadium 16; IMAX, Anchorage
ArkansasDickinson Chenal 9, IMAX, Little Rock
Arizona Dickinson Gateway 12, IMAX, MesaAMC Deer Valley 30; IMAX, PhoenixAMC Loews Foothills 15; IMAX, Tucson

CaliforniaAMC Burbank 16; IMAX, BurbankEdwards Fresno Stadium 22; IMAX, FresnoAMC Century City 15; IMAX, Los AngelesEsquire IMAX, SacramentoAMC Palm Promenade 24; IMAX, San DiegoAMC Van Ness 14 + IMAX, San FranciscoAMC Downtown Disney 12; IMAX, Anaheim
ColoradoUA Colorado Mills Stadium 16; IMAX, LakewoodUA Colorado Center Stadium 9; IMAX, DenverAMC Westminster Promenade 24; IMAX, Denver
ConnecticutAMC Loews Danbury 16; IMAX, DanburyRave Buckland Hills 18; IMAX, Manchester
FloridaAMC Universal Cineplex 20; IMAX, OrlandoAMC Regency 24; IMAX, JacksonvilleAMC Veteran…

Globes Nominations Tread Worn Path

While the Golden Globes traditionally have been known for nominating odd performances in mismatched categories, this year the Hollywood Foreign Press have played it conservatively. The only surprises of these nominees are the mentions for Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (McGregor and Blunt), which hasn't received much consideration elsewhere, and Django Unchained's two supporting actors (DiCaprio and Waltz) are nominated. Lincoln, Les Mis, and Zero Dark Thirty lead the pack, but Django didn't do too poorly either with five nods.

Quentin Tarantino had this to say about the Globes announcements: "It's very gratifying to get this many nominations from the HFPA for a film I worked so hard on and am so passionate about. I look forward to having fun at the Golden Globes with my cast mates and fellow nominees."

Leonardo DiCaprio: “I’m truly honored to be nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association today. Django Unchained was a remarkable experience and I consid…

Slinging in the Rain: Wolverine Debuts New Art

This GIF doesn't reveal much about Wolverine or its plot, but how often do I get the chance to riff on the title of a Hollywood classic?

(Courtesy: Official Site)

'Pacific Rim' Trailer

It's official: Idris Elba is the most kick-ass man on the planet. Guillermo Del Toro confirmed as much by making him the captain on a mission that sends giant robots to fight monsters of Godzilla-like proportions. This I will gladly plant down extra money to see in 3D.

For Your Consideration: Christopher Nolan

Until recently, capes and cowls were a less respected director's game. Flops like The Shadow and Batman and Robin had made it almost impossible for an A-list auteur to get withing a hundred feet of the genre. Then Sam Raimi and Bryan Singer took Spider-man and X-Men to unparalleled heights. Perhaps it was just the matter of getting the right person behind the lens.

After Warner Bros. chose him to take over the rebooting of their biggest icon, Christopher Nolan rewarded them by turning in two of the greatest comic book films of all-time. The problem that faced him afterward: ending the series on a high-note.

Nolan took all of life's anxieties and placed them in front of our eyes. A terrorist attack on a football stadium, financial market takeover, plane hijackings, nuclear weapons. The escapism of one of pop culture's biggest icons was thrown out the window. Every moral and social ill reflected on an eighty foot screen.

Similar to Peter Jackson's careful crafting in br…

'Man of Steel' Trailer

The man behind Superman, a concept that Snyder said would be hit hard and often. Many felt an origin story about the man of steel would feel redundant, but it this looks like Nolan and Snyder may pull it off.

Critics Choice Awards Nominees

The Critics Choice Movie Awards air January 10, 2013. A fun aside, the BFCA is introducing several new categories including “Favorite Fan Franchise,” where all fans vote for the winner. You can vote over at Awards Circuit!

BEST PICTURE
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

BEST ACTOR
Bradley Cooper – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis – “Lincoln”
John Hawkes – “The Sessions”
Hugh Jackman – “Les Misérables”
Joaquin Phoenix – “The Master”
Denzel Washington – “Flight”

BEST ACTRESS
Jessica Chastain – “Zero Dark Thirty”
Marion Cotillard – “Rust and Bone”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva – “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis – “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Naomi Watts – “The Impossible”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Alan Arkin – “Argo”
Javier Bardem – “Skyfall”
Robert De Niro – “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman – “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones – …

AFI Lists 2012's Top Ten

The AFI came out with their top ten list of American films this year. It was quite a pleasant surprise to see The Dark Knight Rises make an appearance, although it may have come at the expense of a film like The Master. Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty at this point have become must-haves for any top ten list for the year. If AFI's selections hold true, December shall bring a great deal of excellent pictures.
ARGOBEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILDTHE DARK KNIGHT RISESDJANGO UNCHAINEDLES MISÉRABLESLIFE OF PILINCOLNMOONRISE KINGDOMSILVER LININGS PLAYBOOKZERO DARK THIRTY

Stare Into the 'Oblivion' Trailer

Joseph Kosinski's new project features another star facing the prospect of being the last man left on Earth. This premise has been done many times before Vincent Price with The Last Man on Earth, Charlton Heston with The Omega Man, Will Smith with I Am Legend, etc. Those three features are all entertaining during the first 2/3rds of the film, but their conclusion leave much to be desired.
So what makes this one more appealing? Morgan Freeman.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot #8

The game where I throw out one of cinema's more obscure quotes and you try to guess it. Readers are currently 3 for 7. Let's see if you can name the film this quote is from. I warn you, this movie is a clunker...

"Not the beeeees!"

The Phoenix Project on Kickstarter

The Phoenix Project is just one of many film projects around on Kickstarter, the most famous being David Fincher's Goonies project. The site is a great concept that brings some cinematic dreams to life. This particular concept though is intriguing:
"The film is a psychological sci-fi drama about four scientists who move into a house together to try and reanimate deceased organisms while dealing with the internal balance of ethics, logic, emotion and ingenuity (think Primer, but with biology)."

If you're feeling in the giving mood for the holidays, donate to The Phoenix Projecthere!

For Your Consideration: Liam Neeson

Widowed husbands are frequently used tropes in action films. It delivers empathy quickly and without wasting a lot of screentime. However, what Liam Neeson does with The Grey is more than A-B-C screenwriting. No shoe-horned breakdown scenes are inserted forcefully into the narrative for the audience to get to know Ottway (Neeson). In the midst of carnal mayhem, he clutches a small picture of his wife in his wallet before he faces what seem like insurmountable odds.

He leads these men through the snow, through the wilderness, through the darkness. That the story doesn't fall into laughable territory suggests the level of gravitas Neeson possesses. In each battle with the elements and its inhabitants, the slowly dying embers of his life crackle to life a little more.

An honest reflection of grief in a film that was marketed as anything but. This is not a performance that garners awards attention, but it should.

Consider 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Teased

A person looking at wreckage facing away from camera should be its own category. Whoever we're looking at (presumably Benedict Cumberbatch's character) has caused a lot of damage and it looks like J.J. Abrams has upped the mayhem for his sequel. It will be appreciated as Star Trek Into Darkness marks the series' first attempt at the IMAX format.

Thoughts on 'Les Miserables'

(this post comes from NMPF reader "Optimus Blimey")
One of the perks of being a Californian is that there is never a shortage of screenings for films that are sure to earn a great deal of buzz. I was just lucky enough to be one of a few hundred to attend Tom Hooper's adaptation of Les Miserables.
Officially, this isn't a review, just some thoughts as a favor to Colin.
Hugh Jackman, despite his hulking badassdom was born to play this part. Jean Valjean requires gravitas and Jackman has it in spades. His past performances on Broadway hint at his talents, but his scenes are some of the most exquisite I have seen in a musical.
Anne Hathaway similarly is awesome as Fantine. Hathaway must have been practicing for ages because every note she renders is bliss. I know that Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence are touted as the winners for Best Actress this year, but my gut tells me it should be Hathaway. Who is she supporting? But her time onscreen will only allow for Supp…